Dan Boyle: No Safe Home

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From top:  Monica McNamara, author of ‘Come On In: A History of Cork Simon Community’; Dan Boyle

Twice in the past week I have met with homeless men in Cork’s city centre. In each case I was called over by name, my election posters acting as a calling card.

Both men were friendly, the weather being good helped in that regard. The few bob were asked for, but the conversations were wider than that with me asking if they were getting what they needed from the services available. They were, even if their expectations weren’t much.

That same week two younger men were found dead on Cork’s streets, each within a stone’s throw of the main homeless hostel in the city. Young anonymous lives ended.

It has been almost five years since the death of Jonathan Corrie near the gates of Leinster House. A name, a face and a story that accompanied a situation.

There have been at least four such deaths in Cork within the past two years. I can recall the death of a young woman who had been living in a tent, no further than fifty metres from a house where my daughter was living. And an older woman found in a doorway, again close to the Cork Simon hostel.

Now we have the deaths of these two young men. With these deaths, and their increasing frequency, grows the fear that we are being desensitised to what is happening right beside us.

Since 1971 Cork Simon Community has been the main agency responding to homelessness in Cork City. How it has done so has been excellently chronicled in a recent book written by Monica McNamara named ‘Come On In’.

The original Simon shelter on John Street was better than the street, but only marginally so. It took twenty five years for a far superior building to be made available at Andersons Quay.

Almost twenty five years later the scope of the services provided by Cork Simon has increased significantly. The two men I met now have access to showers and to laundry services. Food, simple in nature and modest in content, is also available

The lottery remains access to the shelter itself. The occupancy rate of the hostel is 110 per cent. If the mathematics of that seem impossible, the additional figures are reached by placing overflow mattresses on the floor of a common area, meaning many more people sleep there than the hostel was designed for.

And still more get turned away.

A number of months ago Cork Simon commissioned a report from University College Cork, the launch of which I was delighted to be associated. The report, which I’ve already highlighted here, outlines the extent emergency accommodation which shelters are meant to be, have become short term, or at least interim, accommodation they were never meant to be.

Much like this government’s approach to housing supply, there seems a studied incomprehension that increased resources of themselves are not enough.

Resources have to be both sufficient and targeted. Increased resources that fail to meet increased demand, only help to widen and deepen the nature of the problem.

Improved facilities remain tantilisingly unattainable to a growing number of homeless. Current policies only help to grow the number of homeless.

More homeless without shelter. More without services. More effectively given a death sentence from the courtroom of the smug.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator and is standing in the Local Elections for the party in Cork on May 24.  His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Pic: Cork Simon Community

17 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: No Safe Home

      1. Nilbert

        didn’t you read? He was DELIGHTED TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE LAUNCH of the report.

      1. Helen of Moy

        Please. As Dan is virtue signalling about homelessness it is important to remind people that Dan and his collection of political hucksters sold us out to pay the debts of casino banksters.

        We should never forget their incompetence, nor their refusal to protect pubic resources as they sunk the entire nation into an egregious banking scam.

        1. ReproBertie

          Are you referring to the bank guarantee that FF told the Greens about after signing?

      2. Andrew

        Nah.
        Dan and his merry band of incompetents don’t even take responsibility for their actions in government, neither to their senior partners in crime Fianna Faíl.
        This has to be highlighted and acknowledged as long as these same people seek office or try to lecture us.
        This does not preclude criticising Fine Gael for their policies and ineptitude also.

  1. Johnny

    Thanks Dan,will check out the book and I did read that report,so thanks.We have a load of junkies in rural America who started their journey on prescription pills,as they white trash it’s called a health crisis these days.
    During the crack epidemic we had a crime problem,the solution was tougher laws,harsher longer prison sentences,that was a moral problem,gangs,single parenting as it affected black people.
    As this is now ‘white’ peoples problem the solution in US of course to litigate…
    What I want know is whats,Leo doing to stop the pharmacists,doctors and drug companies addicting loads people in Ireland?

    ‘One way to recoup some of those costs—the only way, really, in our society—is to bring lawsuits against the drug manufacturers and distributors. A wave of such litigation is gathering now. More than fifteen hundred cases instigated by states, counties, cities, tribes, hospitals, and other entities have been bundled together into what is known as a multi-district litigation, or M.D.L. The defendants include pharmaceutical companies, such as Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin; distributors, such as McKesson and Cardinal; and drugstore chains, such as C.V.S. Among the arguments that the plaintiffs’ lawyers are advancing is that the companies, by continuing to promote opioids and downplay their potential for abuse, even in the face of evidence that they are powerfully addictive, created a “public nuisance”—a danger to the health and safety of communities.‘

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-purdue-case-is-one-in-a-wave-of-opioid-lawsuits-what-should-their-outcome-be

    1. eoin

      Very interesting stuff happening in US with litigation against opiate pharma companies. That litigation has crossed the Atlantic to the UK, hasn’t yet arrived in Ireland where there is an unacknowledged epidemic, and where GPs aren’t properly held to account for their approach to pain and mental health issues. Shouldn’t be surprising really.

      1. johnny

        Morning Eoin,are we going have an empty seat (crying chair) this morning at the House Committee on the Judicary.In other words Barr takes a knee-he appeared yesterday before the Republican controlled Senate committee, his hamfisted attempts at protecting Trump have only made everything worse,the facts are catching up to him,scathing editorials in both WaPo and NYT demanding he resign, its all over for this AG.

        Promising results from treating opiate withdrawal with weed-this is an excellent series by The Spotlight team on marijuana in Massachusetts.
        But more importantly what is Leo doing about this:)

        https://apps.bostonglobe.com/spotlight/hidden-titans-pot/?camp=breakingnews:newsletter

  2. Andrew

    I also wish people like Dan would stop referencing Jonathan Corrie to somehow bolster an argument.
    Jonathan had a home, given to him. He sold two houses his parents had GIVEN him.

    Jonathan’s problem was addiction NOT housing.
    There are plenty of people who are vulnerable to housing issues who are trying hard, working and contributing and getting nowhere and 1 paycheck away from homelessness. These are the people that need sympathy.

    1. Dan Boyle

      I’m only referencing Jonathon Corrie as a time signpost. The more significant reference is to the anonymous deaths that have followed.

  3. eoin

    Is Dan another one who sees the not-for-profit sector as the solution to the housing crisis? The taxpayer gives the Cork Simon business around €4 million a year, half of its budget. Wouldn’t it make far more sense for the government to provide services on a national scale which would see economies of scale and better accountability?

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