(Updates with homeless vacating office)
By Sally Hayden
LONDON, Jan 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A group of
Irish homeless people vacated a prime Dublin office building on
Thursday, ending a month-long standoff that has focused
attention on the country's housing crisis.
The activists and rough sleepers, who took over the empty
site on Dec. 15, had planned to turn Apollo House into long-term
accommodation for the city's homeless.
On Wednesday, the group defied a High Court midday deadline
to vacate the building, which sits on one of Dublin's best-known
streets. But on Thursday, they bowed to the court ruling and
"It is regrettable that in recent days the state has failed
to take this opportunity to publicly support this effort to
address a national emergency," the group said in a statement
posted online, saying the court order had made the building
"unsafe and therefore untenable".
The activists said they were moving the Apollo House
occupants to alternative housing in an undisclosed location,
where they would have access to support services.
The occupation began as data showed the numbers of rough
sleepers has risen in Ireland, along with the number of families
moving into temporary accommodation. An official snapshot of
Dublin's homeless in November showed an increase of 35 percent
on the year before.
"We want no more people sleeping or dying on our streets,"
activist Rosie Leonard told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from
Leonard, a volunteer with campaign group the Irish Housing
Network, said the government must find safe, long-term housing
for both the homeless and low earners, and introduce measures to
protect vulnerable tenants.
The occupied property formed part of a portfolio of loans
which were taken over by the state-owned National Asset
Management Agency (NAMA) in the wake of the financial crash that
forced Dublin into an 85 billion euro ($89.11 billion) bailout.
($1 = 0.9539 euros)
(Reporting by Sally Hayden @sallyhayd, Editing by Paola Totaro
and Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters
Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers
humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights,
climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)