Homeless men vow to restart lives off the streets

Two homeless men who lived in public toilets in Ennis for a number of weeks have secured emergency temporary accommodation in Galway.

Polish Peter Baram, 35, said he and his friend Josef Pavelka “are happy to be in Galway”.

Speaking from the city after their first night at the emergency accommodation, Mr Baram said: “We had warm blankets. We can watch TV and make coffee.”

Mr Baram said he is “glad” not to be sleeping on the hard floor of the public toilet in Ennis any more.

At Ennis District Court on Wednesday, where Czech national Mr Pavelka, 52, appeared on public order charges, district court judge Patrick Durcan said it was a scandal Mr Pavelka is sleeping in a toilet.

Mr Baram was staying in a public toilet on Ennis’s Market St, while Mr Pavelka was sleeping in a public toilet in the Abbey St car park, also in Ennis.

The two men are alcoholics and cannot receive social welfare benefits, as they do not have habitual residency.

They were moved to Galway following a case conference on Friday that involved the local St Vincent de Paul, the Probation Service, and other bodies.

They were bussed to Galway after having their clothes washed at the Laurel Lodge homeless hostel in Ennis on Saturday morning.

Mr Baram said they receive breakfast and one other meal as part of their Galway accommodation.

However, he added: “At the moment, we have 19 cents between us. We want to buy shampoo and a razor, but we don’t have the money and we will be going to the Social Welfare on Monday where maybe we’ll be OK.

“I like this city. This city is very good. I was in Ennis since 2006 and here nobody knows us and we can go in Tesco and Lidl. The gardaí don’t know us. It is much better.

“We won’t do anything to get into trouble here because we know if we do, we will go straight to prison. We are in Galway for the peace and quiet. It is very relaxed. There is no stress and we are not living in a toilet anymore. It is OK and it will be OK.”

On his friendship with Mr Pavelka, Mr Baram said: “We are good friends. I help him and he helps me.”

The two men do not want to return to their native countries.

In court last week, the men’s solicitor, Darragh Hassett said Mr Pavelka would be dead without the help of the Church in Ennis.

A local priest, Fr Tom Hogan, has provided the men with food and support over the past number of years. He said yesterday: “I’m very happy to hear the men have a roof over their head and they are out of the elements. I know their accommodation is only temporary and I hope this is the beginning of something more permanent. You have to be hopeful.”

Josephine O’Brien of the Homeless Education and Learning Project in Ennis said she has long-term concerns over what will happen to the men.

She is to meet the men, and said: “Their addiction to alcohol should be the first thing to be addressed and I’m worried that we’ll just end up back at square one again.”

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