It has emerged that a bridge at the Royal Canal in Dublin has been flooded to discourage homeless people from using it and to address general safety concerns.
Rough sleepers use Binns Bridge on Dorset Street for shelter.
I hate to damage our reputation and talk about our homelessness crisis but I counted 16 tents on the Royal Canal on the way home earlier. That’s about 40 people living in tents along the banks of the Royal Canal. A hungry feeling indeed. Disgraceful.— Gordon Spierin (@gordonspierin) November 15, 2017
Waterways Ireland is defending raising the water level claiming that it is to prevent drug use and public defecation as well as for public safety reasons.
Water levels have been raised to remove a significant drop from a narrow walkway into the water.
The water level now covers the walkway under the bridge but is not at risk of flooding any other areas.
In a statement released by Waterways Ireland today, it says:
"Waterways Ireland is responsible for maintaining the canals as a public recreational amenity; that is the legislation framework, within which we work.
"At Binns Bridge, the main issues were drug-taking and littering with needles and other residue as well as public defecation. There is a navigation lock under Binns Bridge. The canal is an operational navigation. Waterways Ireland staff and members of the public operate the lock and we must provide a safe environment for them to work in.
"This is not to say that the use of the area by homeless people was not happening, however any homeless people, sleeping in the area were at serious risk of a significant fall and drowning hazard in the deep lock chamber under the bridge. All the solutions we have tried to maintain public safety in the area, including fencing it off, have failed.
"Waterways Ireland is a public body reporting to Government. They are aware of the issues in relation to homeless people using the canal banks as shelter. We continue to highlight the issue with all the relevant agencies and authorities as they work towards a solution."
But Padhraic Drommond who volunteers with Inner City Homeless says it’s inhumane.
"It's absolutely disgusting behaviour for anyone to be doing and it's achieving nothing. It's not solving any issues whatsoever," Mr Drommond said.
"It’s going to raise the water levels under the bridge so there will be no walkway under the bridge or no place for them to shelter," he continued.
"They came down here two months ago and put eviction notices on the tents. Absolutely crazy carry-on in this day and age.
"People need help and to be re-housed, not pushed into another area. That is all this is going to do - push them further down."
Look at this insane letter, it's signed 'Waterways Ireland' pic.twitter.com/WyEwKI30jm— Conor O’Toole (@ConorOToole) September 1, 2017