Help for ex-Defence Forces personnel as residential unit to open in Cobh

A Sleeping Flag at the GPO, Dublin: The sleeping bag designed around the Irish flag aims to highlight the plight of Defence Forces personnel who have become homeless.

A residential unit for former Defence Forces personnel who have fallen on hard times is to open in Cobh, Co Cork.

The new unit is the latest addition to a number of facilities being set up by the ONE (Óglaigh Náisiúnta Na hÉireann) organisation for former Defence Forces personnel.

The unit comes at a time when, according to ONE chief executive, Ollie O’Connor, there are eight former Defence Forces personnel sleeping rough in Cork City.

“That’s the figure we have for those sleeping on the streets,” said Mr O’Connor. “But it is in all likelihood much more.

“We have eight centres now for our people who are in need and we’re in the process of getting 13 set up around the country.

Ollie O’Connor, chief executive, ONE, says the organisation has eight centres for ex-Defence Forces personnel, with the aim to build 13.

“With around 20% of the Defence Forces based in the south of the country, support for those who are in trouble is much needed.”

Mr O’Connor was speaking yesterday as ONE ran a campaign to highlight the plight of Defence Forces personnel who had ended up homeless. The campaign involved the siting of a number of sleeping bags designed around the Irish flag at points around Dublin city centre.

The organisation currently has three hostels where former personnel can stay if they require a roof over their heads.

Fran, a resident of a facility set up by the ONE organisation for former Defence Forces personnel.

The facility in Dublin has 30 beds with two others in Athlone, Co Westmeath, and Letterkenny, Co Donegal, which both have eight beds.

“Our first homeless hostel opened in direct response to a number of veterans dying on the streets of Dublin,” said Mr O’Connor. “Since then, we’ve helped over 900 homeless veterans from all over Ireland who could have faced the same situation. These Sleeping Flags are bags we never wanted to make, but if we can’t get enough funding, our veterans will end up back on the streets.”

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