Woman who died in tent ‘recently homeless’

The 30-year-old woman who died in a tent while sleeping rough in Cork was a “very decent girl” who had fallen on hard times, according to the head of a local homeless charity.

Woman who died in tent ‘recently homeless’

Jennifer Dennehy, who was originally from Blackrock in Cork, was found unresponsive by her partner in a tent in Gillabbey Park in the south west of the city in the early hours of Friday morning.

She was pronounced dead at Cork University Hospital. Her death is not being treated as suspicious.

Christina Chalmers, of Helping Cork’s Homeless, said Ms Dennehy had only recently experienced accommodation difficulties.

“She was only on the streets since last week,” Ms Chalmers said. “She wasn’t accustomed to sleeping on the street. It can happen to anyone so quickly.

“She wasn’t your classical stereotypical homeless person on the streets with addiction. What I would say to people is that what happened [to Jennifer] happens to people so quickly.”

Ms Dennehy’s family has asked for privacy as they grieve for their loss.

A vigil was held last night by the Right to Water/Right to Change group to remember Ms Dennehy and two other people who died arising from homelessness in the past week.

Danielle Carroll, a 27-year-old mother of two, was found dead in emergency accommodation in Leixlip House in Co Kildare, and Jack Watson died in hospital after being found unconscious on Dublin’s Suffolk St.

Ms Dennehy was sleeping in a tent for a few days, having recently been evicted from an apartment on the Western Road in the city. She was receiving rent allowance and was housed by the local authority in recent years.

The Simon Community confirmed she was not a user of their services in the city, but offered condolences to her family and friends.

“It is a tragedy for a woman so young to lose her life on the streets,” said Cork Simon Community communications manager Paul Sheehan.

Ms Chalmers said the use of tents is not sustainable, with people getting soaked right through, and youths in the city sometimes setting fire to them during bouts of anti-social behaviour.

Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork Paul Colton said that society feels “helpless” in the wake of recent deaths of homeless people, and the death of a young woman in the city makes everyone deeply aware of the complex challenges of homelessness.

“Somehow, that this death has happened near the very place where our city of Cork was founded, seems, in its own symbolic way, to strike at, and to challenge, the emotional and moral foundations of our society,” he said.

“It is clear that more needs to be done and that across many sectors of society we need to pool our efforts. I ask myself ‘what can I do?’ We each have a part to play; it is not something that we can simply accuse others of not doing.”

Sinn Féin councillor Mick Nugent, who attended last night’s protest, said people are sad and angry, and they want to remember those who have died.

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