Latest: Fianna Fáil criticises Government on homeless crisis; Minister Murphy 'confident' enough emergency beds in place

update 6.27pm: Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government Barry Cowen TD has expressed his sympathy to the family and friends of the two rough sleepers who have died this week.

"It is a tragic reminder of the impact of the housing crisis and the moral imperative on all of us in public life to address it," he said.

“These two deaths bring to seven the number of individuals who have passed away in the past few months on our streets," he said.

He said a housing first approach is the best mechanism to resolve long-term homelessness.

"The Government must get bricks and mortar in the ground to deliver the houses that are needed to support such an approach," he added.

"Minister Murphy should get moving on addressing these ideas such as an out of hours response, dedicated contact and formal count of rough sleepers."

Meanwhile, the Housing Minister said he is confident every rough sleeper who wants a bed in Dublin over the Christmas period will be able to get one.

Two-hundred new emergency beds are due to be available by December 18, with 50 of them coming on stream from tomorrow.

Eoghan Murphy said it will ensure no one needs to sleep on the streets.

"I'm very confident because we have counted the number of people who are sleeping rough and we have more than enough emergency beds coming into place now on a permanent basis, as well as temporary ones, to be able to look after those people," he said.

"On a night like tonight, we will have the cold weather initiative in place, we will have rough sleeper teams out from the different volunteering organisations trying to encourage people into that accommodation," he added.

Update 4.53pm: The homeless man who died last night had been accessing homeless services since 2010, according to the Dublin Region Homeless Executive.

He had previously been placed in emergency accommodation including temporary supported accommodation on a number of occasions and outreach teams had engaged with him to access support and accommodation, the DRHE said.

Support services were unable to secure permanent housing for him after he left his last placement.

His last known contact with homeless services seeking emergency accommodation was on November 21 when he was provided with emergency accommodation.

The DHRE expressed condolences to the family and friends of the man, who has yet to be formally identified.

The Executive said it is "fully cognisant of the potential impact of severe weather to" rough sleepers, and said extreme weather facilities are in place since yesterday until Monday December 4.

"[The services] will remain in place for longer if the extreme cold snap continues," it said.

The extreme weather facilities were also in place between November 23-26 inclusive.

Update 3.18pm: The Taoiseach has said he is deeply saddened by the deaths of two homeless men in Dublin.

A man in his 50s was found unresponsive in a tent in Ranelagh yesterday afternoon.

Separately, a Lithuanian man who was sleeping rough near the Four Courts was found on Monday night.

CEO of the Peter McVerry Trust Pat Doyle said new emergency beds are being put in place straight away.

"There's 202 new beds coming in this side of Christmas, 24 of them are coming in today," he said.

"We're bringing in a further 20 this week in the Trust ourselves. Overall, we are bringing in about, I think, 115 of the 202 beds will now be coming in by the Trust before Christmas," he added.

Update 12.45pm: A charity working with homeless people has said seven people have died sleeping rough over the last 12 weeks.

The Peter McVerry Trust said it was deeply saddened after two deaths in Dublin in as many days this week.

One was a middle-aged man who was found unresponsive in a tent in school grounds in Ranelagh in the south of the city and the other was a man, believed to be from Eastern Europe, who died outside the Four Courts.

The charity called on the Government to commit to housing every person who was sleeping rough in the capital by the end of the year.

Some 184 people were counted bedding down in parks, streets, doorways and shopfronts across Dublin city on the night of November 7, a record number.

Pat Doyle, chief executive of The Peter McVerry Trust, said: "Our heart goes out to them. It's freezing out there, it's not safe to be a rough sleeper."

There have also been increasing numbers of reports of rough sleepers pitching tents along the canals in Dublin and further out into the suburbs, while the biannual rough sleeper headcount is not considered a full picture of the total.

Some of the other deaths of rough sleepers in the last three months occurred in Drogheda, Cork and Bray.

Eoin O Broin, Sinn Fein housing spokesman, extended condolences to the family and friends of those who had died.

"The Government does not have the homeless crisis in hand," he said.

Mr O Broin called on the Government to bring forward plans to open another 200 emergency beds to provide homeless accommodation during the winter.

The Garda press office said the man who died near the Four Courts was aged in his 30s.

He was taken from the scene by ambulance to the Mater Hospital were he was pronounced dead.

The man who died after being found at lunchtime on Tuesday in Ranelagh was brought by ambulance to St Vincent's Hospital where he later died.

Update 10.35am Minister offers sympathies as second homeless person found dead on Dublin streets this week:

A second homeless person has died in Dublin this week.

The man who is a Lithuanian national had been sleeping rough at the Four Courts and was found unresponsive at around 8pm on Monday.

It follows the announcement of the death of another homeless man in his late 50s in Ranelagh yesterday.

Homeless charity, The Peter McVerry Trust says it was "deeply saddened by the death of two men sleeping rough in Dublin in the past couple of days."

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy offered his sympathies after learning of the death of the first homeless man.

"This is exactly why we didn't want to have an election," he said.

"These are the real types of issues and crisis that a government is there for and is there to deal with.

"What has happened to this individual is very tragic, and of course, I extend my sympathies to his family and friends.

"I can't go into the individual circumstances of this persons life for obvious reasons."

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy

Earlier: Housing Minister under pressure as homeless man dies in his constituency

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is being challenged to investigate the death of a homeless man in the heart of his own constituency.

The man was found unresponsive in a tent in one of the wealthiest parts of Dublin, writes Conall Ó Fatharta and Joyce Fegan

The man, who was in his late 50s, was found sleeping rough near Gonzaga College on Sandford Close, Ranelagh, at 12.30pm yesterday. He was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital but was later pronounced dead.

Outreach workers for the homeless are demanding the immediate introduction of the Government's 'cold winter initiative'.

Anthony Flynn, CEO of Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) said that, without enough beds and proper services for the homeless people sleeping rough every night, more deaths were likely.

“We have warned all week of the continuous rise in rough sleeper numbers with little or no emergency contingency implementation,” said Mr Flynn.

“The cold weather initiative has already failed. This is an unacceptable situation and a death that could have been avoided with proper access to beds.”

“Our calls continue to fall on deaf ears as promises to deliver 200 beds by December 18th is too late. The winter has hit hard now and these beds are essential.

“We need emergency intervention and an immediate response from the minister and Dublin Regional Homeless Executive.”

Meanwhile, Mr Flynn has also asked that no “heavy-handed tactics” are used to remove rough sleepers from beside the capital’s canals.

A number of homeless people are sleeping in tents at Binns Bridge, over the Royal Canal, which is close to Croke Park on Dublin’s northside.

The rough sleepers told ICHH they had been warned that they would be removed from the site today.

Waterways Ireland manages the land along the Royal and Grand canals on behalf of the State.

“We’ve already reached out to the gardaí to not move in in a heavy-handed manner,” said Mr Flynn. “We don’t want these people to be displaced. We want these homeless people to engage with services.”

ICHH engages with rough sleepers in the capital every night and said figures have increased yet again.

“We counted 186 homeless people on the streets on Monday night,” said Mr Flynn. “That’s two more than the figure that was released last week by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive.

“Extra beds were announced last week, under the cold weather initiative, but these beds still haven’t been put in place. They’re meant to be in place by December 18.”

Mr Flynn said it was essential that Waterways Ireland, homeless services, and An Garda Síochána work together so that these people are not “just displaced” at a time when there are no beds in the system.

“It’s a case of reaching out to the guards and Waterways Ireland,” said Mr Flynn. “If we move them on all we are doing is displacing them as there are no beds in the system.

“The tents will just pop up somewhere else. It won’t be Waterways Ireland’s problem anymore, it’ll just be somebody else’s.”

Homeless people are living in tents along Dublin's canals, including the Royal Canal, above. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

Of the 186 people on Dublin streets, he estimated that three-quarters of them are willing to engage with services and access accommodation.

He explained that the 20 or so people who live in tents along the capital’s canals do so for safety reasons.

“People who sleep along the canals do so because they’re not as busy as the main thoroughfares,” said Mr Flynn. “They’re open spaces so people can see them and they feel safer.”

It is understood that there are ongoing discussions between Waterways Ireland, the local community and An Garda Síochána.

A spokeswoman for An Garda Síochána said they were unable to comment on the matter at this time.

This story first appeared on IrishExaminer.com


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