The chief executive of Cork City Council has defended issuing eviction notices to homeless people living in tents on a city quay.
Ann Doherty said the council has tried to engage with the individuals who have pitched tents on St Patrick’s Quay over several months, and that they have all repeatedly refused to engage with the services and supports offered. She said the council has to act at some point.
Nobody should be in a tent. But this is a quay site by the water. It is not the place for people to live,” she said. “We cannot leave people on the side of the water, facing into a winter.
“I don’t see any other way around it. This has nothing to do with tourism. It’s about doing the right thing.
“At some point we have to take action and I am making no apology to anyone about it.”
Ms Doherty was responding to calls from city councillors for a “compassionate approach” after eviction notices were served on the tent dwellers earlier.
Solidarity councillor Fiona Ryan called on City Hall to be a “helping hand rather than another jackboot on the necks of these people”.
Workers’ Party councillor Ted Tynan said he objected to the eviction move too.
It will not be done in my name,” said Mr Tynan. “Approach these people and see if we can come up with a solution.
Ms Doherty said she was disappointed with the commentary suggesting City Hall was not compassionate.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Ms Doherty.
“We have engaged consistently with the first person to set up a tent on the quay, and we worked tirelessly to encourage that person into established services.
“They have refused and refused and refused. And that is a personal choice.
“There are risks about people on that quay and the more people on the quay, the greater the risk.”
Ms Doherty said she has a responsibility to the people living in the area who have complained about antisocial behaviour and fighting on the street nearby.
The council is using section 69 of the Roads Act 1993 to clear the quay.
It has ordered the immediate removal of the tents and warned that if people do not comply, they could face prosecution, fines of up to €5,000, and could be pursued for the council’s expenses associated with the removal and storage of the tents.
Josh O’Donovan, 23, who is living in one of the tents, said he will not move from where he calls home.
Another man said he is prepared to handcuff himself to the railings if efforts are made to remove his tent.
However, the man who has been living for four months in the large marquee-style tent — known only as Mr No Name — said while he plans to remain on the quayside, he doesn’t want conflict over the issue.
He asked the authorities to “honour his right to be” and to “do no harm”.
He said he will ask anyone who tries to remove his tent for “proof of contract, proof of authority, and proof of claim”.