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Campaigners for homeless agree to end occupation of empty Dublin office block

Homelessness campaigners who took over an empty office block in central Dublin have ended their occupation.

The Home Sweet Home group had been ordered by the courts to leave Apollo House by midday on Wednesday but they insisted they would stay until suitable accommodation was found for the few remaining homeless residents.

An hour before the case was due back in the High Court, the campaigners confirmed they were moving people out and would continue to work to find them homes and services.

"We are staying with them and continue to advocate for them," a spokesman said.

Home Sweet Home said Apollo House had been made unsuitable for homeless people because support services could not get in under the court order.

It is understood the remaining residents, about 10 people, are being cared for in other locations and the Peter McVerry Trust is working with them to find suitable accommodation.

The campaigners said had particular short-term and long-term needs and there were a number of couples among them who wished to be rehoused together and sought private rooms.

The have also insisted that homeless people with addiction issues should not be accommodated in "wet hostels" where residents can drink alcohol or in other accommodation alongside drug users.

Dozens of Home Sweet Home activists who were helping to run the makeshift emergency accommodation within Apollo House remain inside overnight despite the court order.

A deal had been announced on Monday to end the occupation.

However, Home Sweet Home accused Housing Minister Simon Coveney of engaging in a "political stunt" and not offering the accommodation that was promised during talks.

They said a number of residents had returned to Apollo House after being offered unsuitable lodgings.

The agreement included the promise of 4 million euro (£3.47 million) to be spent on two new facilities for the homeless in the capital.

Home Sweet Home said the use of Apollo House became "unsafe and untenable" because of the court order.

The group called on Housing Minister Simon Coveney to ensure that the last people to leave the office block will get short and long term accommodation and care that they need.

It said the campaign for better homeless services will continue and listed a number of achievements of the occupation.

These included turning s ingle night bed stays in hostels to minimum six months beds if wanted; n ight time only beds changed to 24-hour access; and specific provision being made for couples in emergency accommodation.

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