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?

Rosemary Fearsaor Hughes

A rough sleeper on Grafton Street

Previously: “Years Of Bad Behaviour”

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31 thoughts on “Dear Eileen

        1. E

          Firstly, this woman clearly takes care of her dog. Look at the pic for gods sake. I imagine beyond finding somewhere to live this dog is her main priority. It’s a guide dog! She needs him to live and function.

          You hate a blind homeless woman because she has a guide dog and is homeless. Think about that statement for a while.

          1. why?

            Oh behave yourself

            I have no problem with this specific woman

            I don’t like the idea of dogs being out on the streets in all sorts that’s all

          2. De Kloot

            But people are fair game… and for what it’s worth, dogs are better equipped for the great outdoors than us hoomins….

          3. why?

            It’s true that dogs do adapt well to all kinds of conditions De Kloot but is the urban street domain really the ideal conditions to keep a dog in? He should be out in a park running with other creatures not getting kicked and poked by street urchins and low lifes. I said nothing about whether the woman should be there or not but it seems to be a personal choice for her as she could probably claim disability and other supports.

    1. Murtles

      Probably because Rosemary has no fixed abode which is one of the requirements for Social Welfare payments A vicious circle for homeless people. There are workarounds (usually hostels that allow their address used) but in this case probably not an option.

      1. scottser

        there are specific offices for dealing with homeless social welfare claims.
        Homeless Persons Unit 1800 724 724

        1. Cian

          I assume that there are/have been issues with identity theft – people rocking up to the office because they are ‘homeless’ – and not having any id/proof of address…

          I would hope that the new Social Welfare card, with it’s ‘biometric photo’, would counter this and make it easier to allow these people identify themselves: and allow them claim their full payments.

    2. Killian G

      Because she has no fixed address. She should also have disability allowances, but doesn’t. Her sight is deteriorating all the time; has been viciously attacked on the street. Gets very little help.

      Rosemary is homeless because of the closure of the John’s Lane West hostel more than a year ago. You’ll see her most nights outside Brown Thomas or in Meetinghouse Square. She’s an extraordinary woman – does loads for the homeless community in Dublin.

      She’s also very friendly and pleasant. Buy her a cup of tea and say hello. You’ll be glad.

      And – using the Edit function now – if we really wanted to tackle the homeless problem in Dublin, we could do a lot worse than put Rosemary into Eileen Gleeson’s job. As an advocate for the homeless over many years, she’s contributed and achieved more than Gleeson could ever dream of.

      1. newsjustin

        Thanks Killian and Murtles. That’s mad, about the address/social welfare issue. It’s a crazy vicious circle. Is there not a way around It? Like, we can invent “Parcel Motel” to give an address for a transaction but can’t give homeless people basically a P.O. Box?

        Rosemary should have a home. But, at the very least, if she is homeless, she should be homeless with her full SW allowances, that her hers by right, in her pocket.

        Seems like an easy get out for Dept of SP. “Can’t give you SW because you dont have an address. Even though you’re clearly a living, breathing person standing in front of us.”

  1. phil

    Rosemary aint wrong , but to my mind the problem with Eileen Gleeson is the public service, Eileen is not to blame really, she is part of a system that corrupts the individuals within it. There are many good people in the public service who hate their jobs and the people they deal with through those jobs , but that can move on because of the perks, they would impoverish themselves by quitting and moving to the private sector to do something they love. Lack of mobility within their service does not help either…

    1. scottser

      eileen gleeson should know better than to tar all homeless persons with one brush – that’s an unforgivable mistake from someone who directs policy.

  2. Turd Ferguson

    So she is saying that there are places for her to sleep but she doesn’t want to use them because she doesn’t want to ring a “degrading” number or have to share a room with other homeless people. Wow. It seems beggars CAN be choosers.

    1. Nigel

      She says the hostels are ‘inaccessible and inadequate’ you ignorant sneering tools. She might be in a better position to make that judgement than you are. ‘Blah blah blah’ is pretty much all you hear when someone like this tries to say something, isn’t it?

      1. Warden of the Snort

        but but if you disagree with paying a handout for every single person who comes up with a hard luck story no matter what their circumstances you’re an ignorant, sneering blah blah blah

        1. Nigel

          Yes, you disagree with paying a handout for every single person who comes up with a hard luck story no matter what their circumstances because you’re an ignorant sneering tool. There may be other, good, reasons for disagreeing with paying handouts to every single person who comes up with a hard luck story no matter what their circumstances, but that’s yours.

          1. Warden of the Snort

            I’ve no doubt you’ll have better reasons than I would have Nigel because you’re so much better than anyone I’ve ever met online

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