Cabinet to reject bill forcing businesses to remove anti-homeless spikes

The Government is set to reject an opposition bill forcing businesses to remove anti-homeless spikes, bars, and sprinkling systems due to fears the changes would encourage people to “squat” outside buildings.

Sources confirmed the Cabinet will reject the plans, put forward by Solidarity-People Before Profit, at its meeting today despite the party insisting that to do so would show the Coalition is ignoring the suffering of homeless people nationwide.

Under the existing planning and development legislation, businesses, hotels, and apartment buildings can install devices including spikes, bars, and sprinkler systems outside their premises.

While businesses claim they are meant as safety measures, they are regularly criticised by housing charities due to the fact that they are effectively used to prevent homeless people from sheltering at night in the doorways of the buildings.

In an amendment to existing rules due to be published today and discussed in the Dáil tomorrow, Solidarity-People Before Profit has called for the devices to be effectively banned.

It wants the devices removed from all premises unless the building owners can prove to planning authorities they are not being used solely to discourage homeless people from sleeping in their doorways.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Solidarity-People Before Profit TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry said the “spikes and devices send out a signal about attitudes to homeless people in society”.

Mr Barry said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and other Government members have made “disgraceful and inhumane” comments in the past week attempting to downplay the homeless crisis, and that, as such, they need to back the bill to prove they understand the difficulties being faced by thousands of people and more than 3,000 children.

Government sources last night told the Irish Examiner the Cabinet is set to reject the bill changes as the proposed legislation could have significant “unintended consequences” both for planning and squatting laws in Ireland.

The Government is concerned that if it backs the proposed changes, “we will be enabling squatting” outside any private building with the law unclear on who is responsible if an incident occurs in the doorways.

A Government source added:

“We do not want to enable people to stay on the street, we want to enable them to find a home. It is not the Governments responsibility to make bad legislation passable.”

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