Coalition: There are enough beds for homeless

The Government has insisted there are enough beds in Dublin for any homeless person who needs them — but has refused to comment on whether the Apollo House campaigners should be removed from the property.

A government spokesperson outlined the situation following the final cabinet meeting before Christmas, which also heard that a long-awaited report into claims gardaí illegally taped phone calls for three decades has been delayed by three months.

The spokesperson said that since December 9, a total of 145 emergency accommodation beds have been made available on Dublin’s Ellis Quay and Little Britain St.

The spokesperson said 65 more are due by the end of this week at Carman’s Hall on Francis St.

The figure brings the total of emergency beds in the city to 1,800, with a further commitment to increase homelessness funding by 40% next year, leading to the official view that there are enough beds in Dublin City for anyone who needs them.

Despite outlining the moves — planned before the Apollo House stand-off emerged — the Government declined to comment on whether homeless people illegally staying at the Nama-owned property should be removed or allowed to stay during Christmas.

On Monday, Children’s Minister and Independent TD Katherine Zappone said that while the issue was “complicated”, she believed the campaigners should be allowed stay at Apollo House over Christmas if no alternative accommodation was available.

“If that’s what provides the appropriate shelter for those people during Christmas, why not,” she told reporters.

Asked about the issue yesterday, a senior government spokesperson said the Coalition was making no comment on whether the move should take place.

Yesterday’s cabinet meeting also agreed to delay by three months the findings of a government-commissioned independent independent inquiry into claims gardaí illegally taped phonecalls between suspects and their legal teams for 30 years.

The extension to March 31 — the second such extension this year — was sought by Mr Justice Nial Fennelly, who is overseeing the investigation on behalf of the State.

While Mr Fennelly has reported on why Martin Callinan resigned as Garda commissioner, he is yet to release his findings on concerns gardaí secretly taped phone calls between suspects and their legal teams for up to 30 years.

The cases have the potential to cause significant problems for previous Garda criminal investigations between January 1, 1980, and November 27, 2013.

More than 500 legal firms are working with Mr Fennelly amid concerns their clients may have been affected by the scandal, which relates to both the Garda communications centre in Dublin and each of Ireland’s 23 Garda divisional headquarters.

While an interim report had been expected this year, a nine-month extension had been sought until December. It has now been agreed to delay the findings until the end of March due to the complexity of work involved.

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