Gardaí are investigating the circumstances of the death of a man whose body was found in a Dublin city centre carpark, although authorities have eased fears that it could be the sixth homeless person to die in the capital in little over a week.
The body of the man, understood to have been in his 20s, was discovered at about 2am on Dublin's Drury St on Thursday. Gardaí are investigating but the Dublin Region Homeless Executive said the man was not known to homeless service and had never accessed emergency accommodation.
With the deaths of five people known to homeless services in Dublin in recent weeks, Dr Fiona O’Reilly, Chief Executive Officer with Safetynet Primary Care, which offers medical care to those who are homeless, said the impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown should not be underestimated, saying in some cases it "may have exacerbated an already precarious living situation".
"Because of Covid things have been changed that will protect society from Covid but may increase risks for other conditions, like mental health, addiction, etc," she said.
Dr O'Reilly said she had heard that some recovery centres may now be seeking a Covid-19 swab for people seeking treatment, which is "another barrier in the way of people getting the help that they need".
She added that services probably need to "play catch-up" after the initial pandemic outbreak, with some people needing help now facing "lesser or paused services". Last Monday the Dublin Region Homeless Executive issued a statement in which it offered its sympathies to the families of the five homeless people who tragically passed away.
"We are very aware of the pain caused by the death of a loved one," it said.
"Five deaths in a week is an unprecedentedly high number, and is obviously a cause for concern.
"In all of these cases support was being offered by our homeless services, but unfortunately homelessness is often complicated by medical or social factors. "Regrettably, even with the highest level of support, five people have lost their lives.
"The DRHE would also like to offer its support to the staff working in homeless services who knew and worked closely with the five people concerned."
Among those raising concerns about the recent spikes in deaths is Dublin City councillor Anthony Flynn, who has been seeking figures as to the number of deaths in or known to homeless services from July 1 to July 26.
It is understood one of those who died recently had been receiving palliative care.
Focus Ireland called on the Minister for Housing to bring forward amendments today as the legislation is finalised in the Dail to help manage evictions where landlords are deciding to leave the market.— FocusIreland (@FocusIreland) July 30, 2020
Meanwhile, Focus Ireland has said it has grave concerns that weaknesses in legislation to extend protection to renters in the private rental sector who have been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic could result in a new surge in homelessness.
Mike Allen, Focus Ireland director of advocacy, said: "We are deeply concerned that, if these protections simply end on the August 1, we will return to the scale of evictions we were previously seeing plus having to deal with the cases which were postponed while the protections were in place."