Updated: 21/12/16 : 06:03:12
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Apollo House occupation for High Court hearing today

The receivers of Apollo House in Dublin city centre yesterday began legal proceedings in the High Court to have the building vacated which is now housing 38 homeless people.

The receivers are seeking injunctions against the "persons unknown" currently occupying Apollo House, directing them to leave the building.

They were given permission by the High Court to serve notice of the application for the injunction on the occupants of the building and the legal representatives of the 'Home Sweet Home' group and to have the matter back in court tomorrow morning.

Senior Counsel Rossa Fanning said the receivers were very sensitive to the plight of the homeless.

He said they had been in touch with Dublin City Council and had been told that there were sufficient facilities available for the number of people homeless in the city at the moment.

According to RTÉ, Mr Fanning said the receivers wanted to try to resolve this matter outside court but representatives from the Home Sweet Home group had not made themselves available even to meet the receivers.

He said the building currently had no fire insurance cover and was not suitable for residential use.

He said there were serious health and safety concerns about the occupants of the building.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan directed the matter to be brought back before him at 10.30am this morning, Wednesday.

He said he also wanted a representative of Dublin City Council to be in court to assist him in relation to the facilities available to those who are homeless.

Several hundred members of the public have gathered at Apollo House yesterday afternoon in a show of support for the campaigners continue to occupy the building.

Mr Fanning said he was representing the joint receivers of Apollo House, Simon Coyle and Tom O'Brien of Mazars.

He said they were seeking an injunction against the poeople currently occupying the premises directing them to vacate the building and restraining them from obstructing the receivers.

Mr Fanning said the building had been unoccupied since the middle of last year due to its poor condition and its unsuitability for occupation.

He said the Home Sweet Home coalition had "forcibly entered" the building on the 15 or 16 December.

He said their purpose seemed to be to provide ad hoc shelter and accommodation for homeless people.

Mr Fanning said it appeared from comments in the media and an appearance on RTÉ's Late Late Show that they were motivated by a genuine concern for the plight of the homeless.

But he said they had admitted they were acting unlawfully and had admitted trespassing for the purpose of making a political statement.

He said the receivers entirely understood the motivation of those involved, if not their actions. But he said the welfare of homeless people would be better protected where professional care and the necessary facilities would be available.

Mr Fanning said the receivers were sympathetic to the social problems of homelessness. But he said the people the organisers were seeking to protect were being put at risk because of health and safety concerns about the building.

He said Dublin City Council had informed the receivers there were enough beds for the number of people homeless in the city at the moment.

Mr Fanning told the court the building's fire insurance cover had been withdrawn since the unlawful entry of the occupants and its public liability insurance would expire in less than 30 days.

He said the building was never intended for residential use. There were difficulties with the lifts, electricity, boilers, water tanks and sanitation.

He said the receivers had been appointed by NAMA in March 2014 after it took over loans of around €370m related to the owners of the property.

He said the receivers had a responsibility to NAMA and therefore to the taxpayers to get the best possible return on the building. He said they had tried to avoid court as the taxpayer would be liable for the costs of these proceedings.

Dublin City Council granted permission for the demolition of the building last Friday, the court heard and there were plans for the construction of a new development in the area.

Mr Fanning said this was a co-ordinated campaign by a group of activists. He said the receivers had not rushed into court and had done the responsible thing by engaging with Dublin City Council to make sure there were facilities for homeless people. He said at all times, the receivers had hoped to avoid having to go to court.

But he said representatives of the Home Sweet Home group had not made themselves available to meet with the receivers to discuss the serious health and safety situation in the building.

He said the solicitor for the group had said they could not agree on who would be available to meet the receivers.

The court was told the choice that was being presented of occupying Apollo House or homelessness was not realistic. 

There was no necessity to occupy the building other than to make a political point.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said he was satisfied that there were safety and health concerns about the safety of the building and its occupants.

He said there was some considerable urgency about the matter.

He gave permission to the receivers to give the occupiers of the building notice of their intention to seek an injunction.  It will be back in court today at 10.30am. 

Mr Justice Gilligan directed that Dublin City Council also be notified about the proceedings with a view to having a representative of the council in court to assist in relation to alternative assistance for those who are currently in Apollo House.