Third death on Cork streets highlights plight of homeless

File photo

The Government has been accused of ignoring the homeless after a third man died in Cork city centre within six weeks.

The Polish man, 47, who had been sleeping rough, was found dead in a doorway on Saturday.

The death comes just weeks after two men in their 30s, who were also known to the city’s homeless services, were found dead on the streets within days of each other.

Catriona Twomey, who runs the Cork Penny Dinners soup kitchen charity, said the Polish man visited them regularly.

She said they warned the authorities months ago that there would be a rise in the number of deaths of homeless people in the city.

“No-one should have to sleep in a doorway, if they can’t access an emergency homeless shelter

“People are genuinely moved by tragic stories like these. The public is outraged and they do respond. But it seems to be becoming the norm for the Government.

“We are lacking services, especially in mental health and addiction services. We need more layers of service.”

The man was pronounced dead in a doorway on Lower Oliver Plunkett St, near Cork Simon’s Anderson’s St shelter, early on Saturday morning. Gardaí do not suspect foul play, with initial investigations suggesting a possible drugs overdose. A file will be prepared for the city coroner.

Fianna Fáil councillor Fergal Dennehy said he also has concerns that such deaths on the streets are becoming the norm.

“It’s been over two years since the death of Kathleen O’Sullivan sparked outrage. There should be as much outrage now as there was then. But I fear deaths such as these are becoming the norm.”

Ms O’Sullivan, 43, died huddled under blankets in a doorway on Lower Oliver Plunkett St on December 6, 2017. Her aunt, Helen, died in the same doorway, while sleeping rough, in 2010.

Mr Dennehy was a member of a special city council committee set up after her death to examine the city’s response to the rising homeless problem.

He said another layer of service is required to support people who are turned away, for whatever reason, from emergency shelters.

“It can be a short-term solution, for a few hours, or just for a night, to allow them to sober up, but, most importantly, to ensure that these people are not left to sleep in doorways.”

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