Updated: 23/12/16 : 05:19:47
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No Apollo House style occupation in Sligo

Despite local and national media reports yesterday that a 'group of activists' had taken over a NAMA owned building in Sligo to house the local homeless Sligo Today can confirm that no Apollo House style occupation has taken place.

Some reputable national news services reported, 'Activists in Sligo town have occupied an empty office building there.

The reports continued, 'The building, which is believed to be owned by Nama, has been taken over by homeless activists in a similar way to the occupation of Apollo House in Dublin by Home Sweet Home activists recently.

'A local source has described the occupation as "along the same lines" as Apollo House, saying: "It’s just an old, disused Nama building, although the people involved could leave or they could stay, it’s hard to tell.'

The report continued, 'The building's location is being kept secret for the time being, but there is said to be fewer than 10 homeless people present in the disused offices which have no water or electricity.

'However, the occupants do have mattresses and food and the conditions have been described as warm.

'The owners of the building have not taken any action yet to take it back from the occupiers.

'Confirmation from Gardaí is awaited about the occupation.

'Receiving Support'

One Sligo news service reported yesterday, 'It’s been confirmed that 13 homeless people occupied vacant office premises in Sligo Town last night, after receiving support to do so from local campaigners.

'Mattresses and blankets were provided for them, after a campaign was initiated on facebook.

It follows on from the national ‘home sweet home’ campaign, and the plight of those occupying Apollo House in Dublin.

The organiser of the local facebook initiative, Gary Smylie, has refused to divulge the location of the vacant offices, but says society has a duty to look after these homeless people over the Christmas period and beyond.

And he says local support has been huge……'

Sligo Today can confirm that no such Apollo House style occupation has taken place.

Several local county councillors were amazed at the story as they stated that there is no shortage of accommodation for any homeless in Sligo. They also said that there are no 'rough sleepers' in Sligo and an abundance of hostel places exists.

The real story is that local activist and former presidential candidate Gary Smylie, pictured above, has done what he has done previously at Christmas.

He gained entry to a vacant property near Sligo town centre to provide a dry location whereby those people staying overnight in a hostel can have a drink as alcohol is forbidden in the overnight accommodation.

Mr Smylie, speaking exclusively to Sligo Today, said that of the 13 people who were in the building he persuaded two to return to their family. "I hope to help others to take similar action. I'm just being a friend to them, everybody is entitled to have a drink at the end of the day."

Last year he took over one of many vacant apartments situated behind The Glasshouse Hotel to invite some of the town's unfortunates who are often seen drinking beside the Garavogue River in Stephen Street carpark.

However Mr Smylie would not disclose the location of this year's sanctuary as he did not want reporters and cameras photographing his 'guests' thus ensuring their privacy.

He added, "Everyday the politicians and the media tell us the Irish economy is in ‘recovery’.

"We are being preached to that all of "us" are better off. Every week some TD or Government Minister leaks new information about some give away they have planned  to bribe the electorate, while they actually vote to make people homeless.

"They give themselves a pay rise while they legalise what should not be even done to an animal.

"People can see the fact that politicians get exorbitant wage increases in order to buffer them from the very misery they inflict on people. They talk about new politics, while the activists who partake in fighting their austerity regime are what New Politics is all about. 

"For example, the anti homeless measure proposed as part of the recent Housing Bill which was defeated in the Dáil.

"These very TDs that voted against that can do so in full knowledge that their extensive property port folios will never be effected.  The recovery is a by word for a nation in denial."