The High Court has refused to grant an extension for a stay on its order to vacate Apollo House in Dublin.

The judge said the provision of suitable alternative accommodation was a matter for Government not the courts.

The case returns to court tomorrow to see if the order has been complied with.

Meanwhile, the Home Sweet Home group has announced it is to defy the High Court and refuse to leave Apollo House.

Apollo House in Dublin

It asked supporters to link arms outside the building today and it also organised a protest for tonight, with a couple of hundred people assembling outside the city centre building this evening.

The Peter McVerry Trust has said eight homeless people remain in Apollo House following the placement of another 11 people who were brought to hostel accommodation this morning.

The Trust said it has enough beds for those left and will remain in contact with them to assist in getting suitable accommodation.

This evening, the Home Sweet Home group said that there are 10 homeless people now in Apollo House. There are also 50 volunteers with the group.

Campaigners occupying the building earlier informed the High Court they wished to apply for an extension of time to vacate the building.


The Home Sweet Home group claims that the alternative accommodation being offered to some residents is not what was promised in negotiations with Minister for Housing Simon Coveney.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said it was not the function of the courts to become involved in the provision of suitable accommodation for homeless people.

He said the occupants of Apollo House were entitled to take legal proceedings under the Constitution or the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said the issue before the court involves the right to ownership of private property.

"If this had been allowed to drag on it could be interpreted that the attitude of the courts was to facilitate people to occupy other properties and that the court would take a benevolent view, that would lead to an intolerable situation in a democratic state so I am not going to get involved in an argument as to whether or not Dublin City Council have provided suitable accommodation."

The High Court had ordered the activists to leave the office building by 12pm today before the case returns to court tomorrow.

Lawyers for the group told the court earlier that they had been promised suitable alternative accommodation but this had not been delivered.

Therefore they had to seek an extension of the stay on the order.

Senior Counsel Ross Maguire told the court it could take up to a week for the accommodation to be secured.

He said there were currently more than 25 occupants of Apollo house. Some had left and returned having found the alternative accommodation unsuitable.

Mr Maguire said the occupiers had believed it would be possible to meet the deadline to vacate but this was not now possible as there was no immediately available suitable accommodation.

He said he wanted to inform the court that since the order was made there had been "an eye to today's date with a view to comply".

Part of that was the rehousing of the current occupants. He said the numbers had dwindled but were "still north of 25".

"The question is where do they go? My clients and other members of the Home Sweet Home group met with the various parties and the Minister for Housing and those meetings were ongoing.

"An arrangement was come to whereby appropriate accommodation for the immediate, short term and long term would be available.

"In that context it looked as though it would be possible to meet the deadline however that has not proved to be accurate and there is now a situation where there is no appropriate accommodation for the residents of Apollo House.

"We have been told it may take up to a week for that to be achieved and in those circumstances I am looking for an extension of the stay", he said.

However lawyers for the receivers argued that the court should not concern itself with "political negotiations".

Apollo House in Dublin

Rossa Fanning SC said it remained an illegal trespass and the court should not get involved in the argument over the quality of the accommodation.

He said he had been informed by Dublin City Council that there were alternative beds available for everyone in Apollo house tonight.

Mr Fanning said the stay on the order expired at noon today. He said there were circumstances where the judge can revisit such a stay but only where radically new evidence has come before the court.

"Mr Maguire has not even suggested there is radically new evidence. On the 21st of December he said then it was because of homeless crisis so we knew there were serious issues and it was with regard to that the court placed an extremely lengthy stay on the injunction.

"We saw merit in that because it gave a reasonable opportunity for the occupants of Apollo House to be rehoused elsewhere but Mr Maguire is saying because of political negotiations between his clients and the Minister for housing and because he says the minister has not met a commitment made he can't comply with the order and that is to suggest that in some way the illegal trespass, an illegal occupation of the building is to be determined only when the minister makes good. That is a false premise."

Mr Fanning said it was "a very simple law case" adding "this is an illegal trespass and an illegal occupation of the building. The court found it as such and ordered it to be vacated today.

"Such negotiations are by the by and neither here nor there as to the legal question. The court should not be getting into this argument at all."

However he said "because we are extremely sensitive to the underlying issue of homelessness" they had spoke to representatives of the Peter McVerry Trust and the Dublin Regional Homeless executive and had been informed there were alternative beds for everyone in Apollo House tonight, not in a week's time. 

He said the dispute over the quality and appropriateness of the accommodation was not a function of the court and was a "political issue taking place outside the proceedings".

Issue involves right to ownership of private property - Mr Justice Gilligan

Mr Justice Gilligan said it was not the function of the courts to become involved in the provision of suitable accommodation for homeless people.

He said the occupants of Apollo House were entitled to take legal proceedings under the Constitution or the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said the issue before the court involves the right to ownership of private property.

"If this had been allowed to drag on it could be interpreted that the attitude of the courts was to facilitate people to occupy other properties and that the court would take a benevolent view, that would lead to an intolerable situation in a democratic state, so I am not going to get involved in an argument as to whether or not Dublin City Council have provided suitable accommodation."

Judge Gilligan said he was not going to entertain an application for an extension of the stay based on suitability of the alternative accommodation.

He said "I have to apply the law in respect of private property. It is very unfortunate for any homeless people but Mr Fanning assures me on behalf of the Fr Peter McVerry Trust and Dublin City Council there is accommodation available for all those presently in Apollo House.

"I can understand and have sympathy for perhaps people saying they would prefer to stay in Apollo House but the order made on the 21st December was specific and was on conditions and everyone involved has clearly been on notice of the court order.

"There can't have  been any misunderstanding about that. I don't see how anything is gong to change. They  effectively had the opportunity to raise very wide awareness about homelessness and the critical situaion in Dublin but on the other side of the scale I have to have regard to the law.

"I have already held they have no right to remain there, they are trespassing there. It is not the function of this court to stand idly by.

"Those behind Apollo House have to understand I have no function other than to apply the law.

"I exercised my discretion and gave a lengthy stay but it is still my view that it was long enough to allow people to vacate the premises. I'm not getting involved in a dispute about whether or not alternative accommodation is safe, secure or suitable. That is a matter for Government, not the courts."

Peter McVerry Trust to continue work with Home Sweet Home

Following the ruling, the CEO of homelessness charity the Peter McVerry Trust said it would continue to engage with Home Sweet Home.

Pat Doyle said: "In engaging with Home Sweet Home and their occupation of Apollo House our sole objective has been to meet the needs of the residents there. We have always operated in good faith and worked in partnership with all parties to achieve the best possible outcomes.

"Since December 22nd we have assessed 85 people, more than twice the capacity of Apollo House, and by the court deadline at which point Peter McVerry Trust staff vacated Apollo House, had re-accommodated 76 people."

"We have extended an offer to the Home Sweet Home to continue to liaise with them in an ongoing basis and make available our supports."

Concluding, Mr Doyle said: "Peter McVerry Trust's goal in 2017 remains the development of new housing programmes and is actively working to deliver a large number of units to help people ultimately exit homelessness."

Coveney encourages Home Sweet Home to continue engagement with Peter McVerry Trust

Meanwhile Minister Coveney has encouraged representatives of the Home Sweet Home campaign to continue to engage with the Peter McVerry Trust and Dublin City Council.  

In a statement, the minister said that discussions should continue with "a view to making arrangements for the transition of people currently in Apollo House to alternative suitable accommodation with appropriate supports."

Mr Coveney also outlined a number of measures recently undertaken by the Government to provide accommodation for homeless people. These measures include the opening of three new facilities in Dublin last month.

He said that there are now over 1,800 emergency beds available in Dublin.