The tragic death of another homeless person on Cork's streets is a reminder to the Government that it needs to do more to tackle homelessness, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said.
Mr Coveney was speaking following the death of a Polish man, who was sleeping rough, from a suspected drugs overdose on a city centre street on Saturday.
He was the third person known to the city's homeless services to die in just over six weeks, and the fourth in almost two months. The latest death sparked criticism of government funding levels and policy measures around homelessness.
Those working at the coalface, including Cork Penny Dinners' Catriona Twomey and Fianna Fáil councillorFergal Dennehy, said it is clear that not enough supports are in place.
But Mr Coveney said anybody who thinks that homelessness and housing isn’t a big issue for the Government doesn’t understand what they are trying to do.
“That doesn’t mean that there aren’t tragedies happening that remind the Government every week of the urgency of the issue," he said.
It is why we have dramatically increased budgets in this area and why we continue to work with local government to try and ensure that the emergency solutions that are in place for people who are homeless are working.
“Whenever somebody dies tragically on our streets it’s a reminder that the government needs to do more.”
Cork Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien said that while he was not aware of the circumstances of the man who died, he believed the Government was failing to address the housing crisis.
Mr O’Brien, who has previously spoken publicly about his brother’s struggles with homelessness and drug addiction, also said there were no services in Cork for homeless people suffering from illnesses like addiction.
“Cork services say they have the space to cope with demand. The problem is that there are no high dependency units for those with chronic or severe addiction, or a combination of addiction and mental health issues.
“Services have an obligation to uphold the safety of those using their services, and I understand their problem when people who might be disruptive come to the doors.
"But the reality is there is nowhere for these people in Cork, like there is in Dublin.