Enda Kenny: No homeless on streets at Christmas

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday pledged that nobody would be left on the streets over the Christmas period — unless they wanted to be.
Enda Kenny: No homeless on streets at Christmas

However, he again refused to increase rent supplement levels amid claims that vulnerable families unable to pay landlords were being kicked out of their accommodation onto the streets.

Marking the one year anniversary of Mr Corrie’s death outside the Dáil, Opposition leaders claimed the homelessness crisis had in fact “deepened” over the last year.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the most shocking issue was families losing their homes, particularly where rents had been hiked up in recent months. However, his call on the Coalition to increase rent supplement was rejected by the Taoiseach.

Mr Kenny said the real issue was that of supply.

Interventions by local authorities, particularly in Dublin, would take people off the streets, he claimed.

“It should mean that there will be no rough sleepers in Dublin this Christmas. I cannot speak for every individual, however, because some people want to be on the streets and are in very particular circumstances.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams claimed in the Dáil that some in Fine Gael were “profiting” from the homeless crisis.

It must have been a very lonely night for Jonathan Corrie, when he passed away in a doorway on the steps of power last December.

A furore ensued, politicians and stakeholders held hour-long summit meetings and everyone from that Molesworth St doorway to the hills of Donegal and the Aran islands, knew who Jonathan was.

Hundreds turned up to march from the GPO to Leinster House, to mark the anniversary of Jonathan’s death last night.

Director of Uplift Siobhán O’Donoghue lights a candle at the door where Jonathan Corrie died a year ago. Picture: PA
Director of Uplift Siobhán O’Donoghue lights a candle at the door where Jonathan Corrie died a year ago. Picture: PA

The march was organised by a new group called the National Homeless and Housing Coalition. It is a coalition of the Peter McVerry Trust, Focus Ireland, Dublin Simon Community, Help 4 the Homeless Ballyfermot — all the big agencies as well as trade unions and some political parties. It was a cold night, despite the 13C of heat.

Homeless men and women stood at the top of the rally as various people took the stage to talk and sing.

To the left of the stage was the doorway. There were blue candles in the porch. They were handed out to the crowd.

Some politicians floated around the outskirts of the crowd. Mr Adams walked past as the crowd dissembled, the march was over.

The organisers were happy with the turnout.

“I’m very happy with the turnout, this is just the start of it, it’s out there now, so hopefully the next one that we have will be bigger, said Anne Marie Gleeson who founded Help 4 the Homeless Ballyfermot.

“It was a mixture between homeless and housed people marching, I’m delighted people came out. So now let’s make the next one bigger and better and get more people behind us.

“We want the streets full, we want families and children out. Housing affects everyone, it’s not just the rough sleepers, it’s people in hotels and B&Bs, the people whose houses are being taken.

“Hopefully, in the New Year will we do another one.”

Another member of the Ballyfermot group, the group that spearheaded the coalition, was Yvonne Byrne.

Ms Byrne is a recovered addict who used to sleep in hostels.

“I’m part of Help 4 the Homeless Ballyfermot to help bring awareness, to put pressure on the Government and to give back,” she said. “I’m a recovering addict and I’ve seen it and it stands out a mile in my area, in Ballyfermot, so I just decided I’d get involved.

“You get a lot of people coming up to you because they know your past and they know you’ve changed, so I’m helping them and I can give hope.

“I never slept rough but I was in and out of hostels. I was actually lucky, growing up in my area you had to toughen up so I knew to be streetwise, how to protect myself, I was lucky.

“My father died and I went into prison and I ended up detoxing, I was after having enough and I got in touch with Merchants Quay.”

The numbers might have been small last night but the coalition will go on. They plan for their march to be bigger. It will take place before the General Election.

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