A man who had been known to homeless services was discovered unresponsive in the area around the Four Courts on Monday evening
“The latest two deaths in Dublin bring to 7 the number of people sleeping rough that have died in the past 12 weeks, said the Peter McVerry Trust,
“We calling on the Government to commit to housing every person currently sleeping rough in Dublin by the end of next year.”
The charity said there are currently just over 180 people sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin and called on the Government to “commit to ring-fencing 180 social housing units for our most vulnerable citizens.”
Slawek Wolowski with Aimee O’Riordan who are residents from Leeside Apartments in Cork and face eviction joined supporters against the planned mass eviction by a vulture fund and in support of Solidarity’s anti homeless devices bill.
Rosemary Fearsaor Hughes (left with guide dog Quilla) and Eileen Gleeson
An open letter to Eileen Gleeson, Dublin Regional Housing Executive, Dublin City Council
As a sight-impaired rough sleeper, I wish to point out some of your misconceptions. Your statement on the causes of homelessness is discriminatory at least and ill advised at best.
I am writing this as a homeless person angered at your flagrant disregard towards other human beings, since you seem to forget that we are human, to rebuke you for the sweeping statement you have made about individuals who find themselves without accommodation.
How many homeless people do you know on a personal level?
We are not all in this situation through “bad behaviour” or through substance abuse. I was without a home and family overnight: not all “homeless people” are bums who want to live off welfare. Many find themselves homeless as a result of landlord greed, or through escaping abusive relationships.
Legislation governing the selling of handicrafts and other honest means of making a living make it impossible for individuals to save money to access private rented accommodation.
I am a Big Issue vendor, on many occasion I have experienced persecution for selling handicrafts that I have made, postcards and other small souvenirs on the streets, I want to earn a living and I will never beg. I am not in receipt of Social Welfare.
I, like many other rough sleepers, do not abuse any substances, including tobacco or alcohol, which is one of several reasons why I wish to have nothing to do with your inadequate and inaccessible hostels, accessed through a degrading freephone number.
Most of the “emergency accommodation ” facilities are unsuitable for an individual with mobility issues or sight impairment. If an accessible bed was available I would gladly accept it, that said there are not enough beds available anyway. The facilities are undignified and individual privacy is minimal.
I am computer literate and want to give something back. I not only read Braille, but I can teach it. I know many other homeless people who want opportunities to contribute to the society which has literally left us in the gutter.
However, once you have the stigma of having been homeless your prospects diminish greatly and your opportunities for obtaining meaningful long-term employment vanish. You are perpetuating that stigma by implying that all who have been or are homeless are in that position through their own wrong doing!
I am going to cast some aspersions of my own. I can be reasonably certain that you have never been without food and not known how you were going to find your next meal, nor that you have ever needed to find cardboard to bed down in a doorway.
You have had an easy life where wants and needs are easily confused. You are out of touch with the reality of what it is to survive with little or nothing and I cannot see how you can be of any benefit to the DHRE, because you have little idea about homelessness.
What is certain is that, on your watch, precisely nothing has been done to solve the long-term problem of homelessness in Dublin. I commend those charities who are doing what they can, which is more than I can say for the DHRE.
So I ask you Eileen Gleeson, how can someone so ill-informed about homelessness and clearly and demonstrably incompetent stay in a job for she is unsuitable with the DHRE?
Eileen Gleeson, Director of the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE). Dublin City Council, through the DHRE, is the lead local authority in the response to Homelessness in Dublin.
Eileen Gleeson, director of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, said long-term homelessness resulting from years of “bad behaviour” cannot be solved by the efforts of “ad hoc” unauthorised groups.
“Let’s be under no illusion here, when somebody becomes homeless it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes years of bad behaviour probably, or behaviour that isn’t the behaviour of you and me,” she told Dublin City Council’s policing committee.
“They’re afraid to come in, they’re reluctant, they’re quite happy to continue with the chaotic lifestyle they have. If somebody provides them with some sort of halfway shelter they’ll willingly take it.”
Homeless people are “entitled to dignity”, she said, but they must be linked up with expert staff who can break the cycle and get them off the streets permanently. “If they’re only getting a cup of soup and they’re homeless it isn’t helpful,” she told councillors.
“Some of this narrative has seeped into international coverage of our housing system and is damaging to Ireland’s international reputation, that our social response to this issue is being portrayed as dysfunctional.
As Teachta Dála we have a responsibility in this regard and the good work being done in difficult circumstances needs to be recognised.”
Junior Housing Minister Damien English in the Dáil last night.
Members of the Polish community in Dublin donated a new tent and provisions for John Byrne who has been homless for 25 years. J
ohn famously saved a rabbit from the River Liffey in 2011.
Sam Boal, of Rollingnews, writes:
As a press photographer I cover a lot of different events; including a lot of heartbreaking stories. This is one such heartbreaking story. John says he has been homeless for the last 25 years.
He’s now living in a tent on the side of the Royal Canal beside Mountjoy Prison, with his mate Daryl and his dogs. I have to admit before doing this assignment I was a bit nervous to approach it.
Everyone has their own idea of what could happen and what people might be like. At first I didn’t recognise John at all, but he recognised me; which took me by surprise. Quickly he let me spend some time with him, whilst members of the Polish community helped to set up a new tent and provisions which they had gathered together to help John move from a one-man to a bigger two-man tent.
John came to public attention in 2011 when he jumped into the River Liffey in Dublin to save his rabbit which had been thrown into the water.
With all the media attention and the fact that he was homeless, most people might have assumed that help for him was not far off.
Unfortunately, seven years on John is still homeless and sheltering in a donated tent.
John and Daryl are accompanied by his four dogs; most of whom have been rescued from the streets. His compassion for his animals is infectious John says that his dogs keep him safe; barking at everything.
They also keep off the massive river rats, which he describes as being two hands big, and that swarm over the canal banks in the early hours of the morning.
Dogs, we say, are ‘man’s best friend.’ For John that seems to be the case. His dogs are better friends to him than any human.
Over the course of our conversation I photographed set up shots, but the one above was natural.
John just picked up his dog and his dog’s gratitude and love shines through. As a press photographer I try to highlight a story in the best way I can. Sometimes this requires a measure of setup due to time constraints and deadlines. I hope that this is not just a nice picture.
I hope it might just help John and those like him to get the proper accommodation they need. I am not naive: it requires more than houses to solve the issue of homelessness.
However people living in our capital city in tents – whose dogs are better friends than any human – is not my idea of a solution either.