Bid to halt use of ‘cruel’ rough sleeping deterrents

Homelessness campaigners are seeking new legislation to stop the “cruel and inhuman” use of spikes and sprinklers to deter rough sleepers.

An Anti-Homeless Devices Bill, launched by Solidarity TDS, is to be debated today.

Devices, such as spikes, raised bars, and water sprinklers are being installed outside buildings across Dublin and other cities and towns.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry said the number of devices being installed is increasing every month.

He said they were “cruel and inhuman”.

“They have one use and that is to prevent homeless people seeking shelter,” added Mr Barry.

The Government is expected to reject the opposition bill, which would force businesses to remove the devices.

Mr Barry said to vote down the bill would show “disdain” for the homeless.

Homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry said that “excluding homeless people, making them feel unwanted and rejected, is an act of violence, often perpetrated by the State”.

“For homeless people, Travellers, and other groups in our society, Ireland is not a land of opportunity, but a land of exclusion and oppression.”

Lorraine O’Connor, from the Muslim Sisters of Éire, said the devices “are a disgrace and a smear on the Irish society”.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD said that the bill “is a modest effort to prevent the further persecution of homeless people.”

Meanwhile, President Michael D Higgins has proposed the setting up of an enterprise agency along the lines of the IDA to help solve Ireland’s housing shortage.

In a keynote speech to the annual policy conference of Social Justice Ireland, the President said:

“This State has, in recent years, been well served by our enterprise agencies, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, who have pursued successful interventionist policies — including the provision of sites — to promote domestic Irish enterprise and in the case of IDA Ireland so as to ensure that multinational corporations locate their facilities here.

“We might reflect, at a time of acute housing shortage, and at a time when the most efficient use of the current stock of housing and of residential land is not being made, whether an enterprise agency of similar character to those in other areas might not be warranted, released and resourced to play a role in the market, one that would show the same urgency and the same élan as IDA Ireland or Enterprise Ireland.”

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