Tag Archives: Homelessness

Sort of.

This morning.

Arriving at Leinster House.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (top two pics), Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys ahead of a Cabinet meeting.

It’s been reported that the Cabinet were to discuss the process of recruiting a new Garda Commissioner and the housing crisis this morning.

The Dáil resumes next week.

Cabinet to discuss garda commissioner recruitment (RTE)

Previously: Meet The New Acting Commissioner

Rollingnews

From top: Two people sleep rough on Salthill promenade in Galway earlier this year; journalist Ciaran Tierney

Last month, the Cope Galway claimed 50 people were sleeping rough in Galway while there were also 50 homeless families, including up to 100 children, and 45 “single person” households in emergency accommodation in Galway city on any given night.

Ciaran Tierney writes:

The mood was sombre as we left the ground. Galway United had just lost a crucial game to a last minute goal from Dublin club Shamrock Rovers and the unseasonable drizzle matched the mood of the home fans for the walk back to the city centre.

It was the first Friday night in months that Eamonn Deacy Park was in darkness as we left the ground following a home game and the shortening days seemed to bring grim tidings of a long winter to come for the city’s soccer club.

Relegation was beckoning and suddenly, given the biting wind and incessant drizzle, optimism was in short supply.

I normally drive to Galway United games and park my car across the river at NUI Galway. On this night, though, I had brought a group of 22 students from Mexico, Switzerland, Spain, and Brazil to the SSE League game, where they had revelled in the atmosphere and the quality of the football, if not quite the result for the home side.

So I zipped up my jacket and braced myself for the 15-minute walk into the wind and rain, towards the city centre where I had arranged to meet an old friend in a pub.

What I didn’t expect to discover was that a whole new “neighbourhood” had popped up in my city, barely ten minutes away from Eyre Square and the pedestrian heart of the city.

The Dyke Road is really green at this time of year, a bush-lined roadway between the soccer ground and the heart of the city.

To our right, amid the overgrown bushes, a number of discarded sleeping bags caught my eye. I had ignored them earlier, given the logistics of arranging match tickets for 22 foreign language students, but now I was in no particular hurry as I made my way back into town.

I heard some voices coming from behind the bushes. Someone, unseen, called out to me from just metres away.

Curious now, I stopped and peered in through a gap in the bushes. A man of about my own age approached me.

I asked him politely what he was doing there and he told me this was his “home”. Leaving the road for a few minutes, I walked in through the bushes and discovered a makeshift village of six or seven of the kind of cheap tents you can buy for €25 or €30 in one of the discount supermarkets.

He told me that there were a dozen people living there and I felt ashamed that I knew nothing about this makeshift “community” which had popped up just ten minutes from the heart of my city.

I asked him if he was alright and told him I didn’t smoke when he asked me politely for a cigarette. There seemed to be a look of resignation in his weather-beaten face and despair in his quiet voice as I surveyed his appalling living conditions for just a few brief moments.

This was Galway in 2017, the kind of place the tourists never see, and it made me wonder how many other people scattered throughout the margins of my city were living in similar conditions just minutes from prying eyes.

How many were sleeping on friends’ couches or in their cars because the hostels were full? How safe did these people feel, sleeping in tents so near to the city’s main thoroughfare?

And so I walked on into the city centre, where my friend had arranged to meet for a post-game drink before driving home to his small town an hour from Galway.

With him was another man I had met once or twice before. Also about my own age, he began to question me urgently about the rental situation in the city.

On strong medication for the past decade, the man is desperately seeking a change. He wants to move out of the small town where he can’t find any employment opportunities, where he feels trapped, but feels he is stuck in limbo and can’t move on with his life.

He has battled mental health problems for a long time and now feels it’s time to move on. He would love to get a job in the city, to have something akin to a normal life, and I can see despair on his face when I tell him it costs about €350 per month now to rent a room in my city.

How could he afford that? he wondered. How could he get a job when a decent place to live is beyond his means?

He wants to live a fruitful, meaningful life, but he’s in a spiral of unemployment and broken dreams, surrounded by people in the same predicament as him. Although he barely knows me, he confides that he’s trying desperately to get off medication and that it has hampered his ability to regain control of his life.

I feel bad. I feel as though I’m destroying his dream, even with a brief little chat about the rental situation in my city. And I wonder how hard he would struggle to return to the jobs market, given how the medication has “numbed” him out for years now.

I feel desperately sad to see how sad he is about his prospects of getting a job or a flat in Galway. The “half-way house” he lives in is keeping him off the streets, which he is thankful for, but things most of us take for granted (a job, independence, a girlfriend) seem totally beyond his reach.

Surely, in 2017, “numbing” people out of pain because they have had mental health difficulties in the past is just not good enough. Especially if they really want to make changes in their lives.
I feel apologetic as we bid our goodbyes.

I’m not drinking tonight, as I left my car in Salthill an hour before the football game. So I take my leave after almost two hours in the pub and make my way through the city centre.

In Forster Street, there are bodies huddled in doorways, beside some of the city’s busiest and most trendy pubs. Their faces covered under hoods, people have laid their sleeping bags out as they prepare for an uncomfortable night’s sleep.

In Eyre Square, two young men in their early 20s shout loudly to each other as they urinate in full view of a group of appalled Swiss or German tourists. They are oblivious to the disapproving eyes.

I cross the road, where three young women are alighting loudly from a taxi. Already drunk, one of them clutches a drink in her right hand. Excited, perhaps, by the prospect of a night out in one of the city’s clubs, they shout loudly at each other. One of them racially abuses the cab driver before heading off into the night.

The driver glances at me for just a brief moment, shrugs, and drives off to pick up his next fare. His reaction seems to make it clear that this is not an isolated incident on a weekend night.

At the corner of Eglington Street, it seems there is a riot going on. Not to worry, it’s just a group of young people socialising loudly outside one of the city’s biggest bars.

I’m no prude. I used to love socialising in the city centre late at night in my 20s and 30s. But trying to walk by a large group of people who are clearly out of their minds with alcohol is no fun if you are completely sober and walking alone on a Friday night.

I turn down Shop Street, a place which tourists tell me they find scary in the early hours. The place is buzzing with activity, as young people make their way towards the city’s late night bars and clubs. It will be heaving again when the clubs empty out around 2.30am.

I have to admit I haven’t been here for a while in the early hours. On the city’s main thoroughfare, in the heart of the pedestrian zone, I’m quite shocked to see quite a few people bedding down in doorways on either side of the street.

A couple from Eastern Europe seem oblivious to the passing eyes as they argue loudly while laying out their sleeping materials for the night. Tomorrow, people will be drinking lattes right next to the place they now call “home” for the night.

Just 50 metres away, some poor woman is sleeping out on her own. I don’t want to appear too curious, to discover her nationality. A kindly passer-by is down on his knees, asking her if she is ok, and I wonder what circumstances led her to sleep in a shop doorway in my wet and windy city, of all places, in August 2017.

I wonder how she will sleep when the pubs empty out at 2 or 2.30am and the young revellers make their way to the fast food premises. Will she face verbal or physical abuse? It’s already cold and wet in August, but will she still be here in November when the conditions will be much worse?

How did it come to this? That a little makeshift village has sprung up within a ten minute walk of the city centre or that people have no option but to bed down in shop doorways through the night?

That young revellers now see it as “normal” to come across people lying outside under the elements as they make their way to and from the late night clubs?

This is Galway, in August 2017. We have just had an amazing festival season, yet the sad underbelly is impossible to ignore if you venture into the city at night.

Why isn’t there more of an uproar in a place where the City Council can devote an entire meeting to whether or not they should say a prayer before their monthly meetings?

Yes, I felt like a bit of a prude on Friday; or a little naïve, to have been so oblivious to the extent of the homelessness problem in my city right now.

But the City of the Tribes did not feel like the most welcoming place for everyone when viewed through sober eyes on a cold and wet Friday night.

Ciaran Tierney is a journalist, blogger, and digital storyteller, based in Galway

This is Galway on a Friday night (Ciaran Tierney)

Pic: Paul O’Brien (Connacht Tribune)

Anyone?

Via Anthony Flynn of Inner City Helping Homeless

I write as a homeless citizen in my late 30s. My father had a house, a car and three children when he was my age.

The Irish capitalist system has failed my generation when it comes to housing rights. The laissez-faire housing strategy has failed us.

I call for a bailout of the sizeable homeless population of Ireland and the urgent utilisation of State power to act as social entrepreneur in resolving inequality of conditions as far as housing is concerned.

Only the bypass of market forces can resolve the situation. We cannot wait any longer for social justice.

Gavin Bushe,
Clondalkin,
Dublin 22.

A bailout for Ireland’s homeless (The Irish Times letters page)

Rollingnews.ie

New Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy with Focus Ireland founder Sister Stanislaus and CEO Ashley Balbirnie at Harold’s Cross this morning

Remember former Minister for Housing Simon Coveney’s claim that he would ensure  all homeless families would be out of hotel accommodation by July 1?

RTE reports:

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has said the Government is going to miss its deadline of 1 July for moving homeless families from temporary hotel accommodation.

He said the 650 families involved will be moved straight into family hubs or other accommodation or they will be notified in writing of where they are going in the coming weeks.

Mr Murphy was speaking at the opening of 28 housing units in the grounds of Harold’s Cross Hospice in Dublin. The units are owned and operated by Focus Ireland and built on a site donated by the Sisters of Charity.

Mr Murphy said that the review of Rebuilding Ireland is continuing and it is a good time to look at what new measures or powers might be needed. He said the Taoiseach has told him to think big and no idea is too radical.

Murphy says Govt will miss homeless deadline (RTE)

Pic: Rebuilding Ireland

UPDATE:

Yesterday.

In the Dáil…

Irish Independents 4 Change Tommy Broughan said:

“The issue of Lynam’s Hotel on O’Connell Street which is currently being modified to become a family hub to house homeless families. A constituent contacted my office yesterday, very distressed, that she, along with her two young boys, were placed in Lynam’s Hotel late on Monday night. They arrived to find the place without running water or electricity in the room and she felt very unsafe.”

“I understand that Lynam’s is being offered as a late-night solution when no other family accommodation can be found, instead of sending families to Garda stations as has happened recently. Yet, Lynam’s is still a building site.

“Anthony Flynn, of Inner City Helping Homelessness charity, went to the property yesterday with Dublin Fire Brigade and I understand that a full inspection is being carried out today. And there’s a photo on social media of a fire escape chained shut and I understand members of the fire brigade did declare the building a fire hazard last night.

“But, in the light of this, and I also understand young students and family, including four children, minister, were today evacuated from 24, Mountjoy Square over safety issues and that a fire safety notice was issued for this property in August 2016, so minister can you now outline what other occupied properties around Dublin have fire safety notices indicating the address and date of issue for the fire safety for each property. How can tenants be left in a property which has had a fire safety notice for almost a year? I’ve asked your senior minister, Deputy Murphy, to act urgently on this.”

Previously: Meanwhile At Lynam’s

 

Anthony Flynn, of Inner City Helping Homeless, and new figures from the Department of Housing

Last night.

Just before the Fine Gael leadership debate in the Red Cow Inn, Dublin.

During which contender and Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said the party needs to represent both “the man in a sleeping bag on Grafton Street tonight as well as the man creating 1,000 jobs”.

The latest homelessness report, for the week April 24-April 30, 2017 from the Department of Housing was released, showing that the number of people who are homeless has reached a new record high of 7,6804972 adults and 2,708 children.

The figure surpassed 7,000 for the first time ever in December 2016.

Further to this…

Last night.

Anthony Flynn, of Inner City Helping Homeless, wrote:

The last number of days have been fairly chaotic when it comes to homelessness. Tuesday in particular, we saw the highest ever recorded number of rough sleepers and a drastic situation of no hotel/B&B accommodation for 12 families.

This led to a frenzy of supports required to be put in place and services increased to cope with demand. A number of families were referred to Garda stations as there was nowhere else to go. One such family had to be accommodated within our offices until supports could be put in place Wednesday morning. Some of those that were affected slept in tents others in cars.

How did we come to this situation?

A lack of short to medium-term planning is the best answer I can give. A complete lack of inter-agency communication and a lack of will from the powers-that-be. The eye has been taken off the ball in regard to homelessness and the long-term planning aspect has left short-term problems. Homelessness has become a crisis right across the State but hasn’t been treated as such. Our volunteers deal with thousands of individuals weekly, many of whom have become lost in a system of ‘no hope’.

I have spent the last four years in a voluntary position within Inner City Helping Homeless; I have met an abundance of people, from homeless to colleagues. I have made some great friends and am privileged to lead an organisation that shows empathy, compassion and is made up of decent human beings.

This week however, I can say that it has been the worst week I have seen within the homeless sector. Up to 30 children refused accommodation, whilst those who are charged with solving our homeless crisis enjoy their evening off.

Families sent from pillar to post in order to be left with no hope, no accommodation and no home. Homeless has become an epidemic, a plague that has spread so wide across our city and state.

Homelessness has become a business, a sector, it cost in excess of €100million a year to operate. To some that means profit, which in turn means that homelessness will remain.
This however should not take away from our responsibilities, people are suffering.

Children are being now left on the streets, a prediction that Father Peter McVerry made only a year ago. Homelessness has become socially acceptable. It has become tolerable to pass somebody by in a doorway, it has become bearable to leave families stuck in hotels, and now, this week, it has become justifiable to leave children without a bed.

Inner City Helping Homeless