A man, who was found dead in a laneway in Limerick city on Friday, had recently been supported by family and local homeless shelters, informed sources said.
The body of the 69-year old, who was a native of Poland, and who had been in Ireland for a number of years was discovered at Limerick Lane, off Catherine Street, around 8am.
Beds in homeless shelters were available the night before the deceased was found, and have been available all throughout January, a spokeswoman for Limerick City and County Council confirmed.
However, freezing temperatures over recent nights have made conditions particularly dangerous for those sleeping rough.
Offering her “condolences at this tragic time”, Una Burns, Head of Policy and Communications at NOVAS homeless supports service, said that “due to Covid-19 restrictions” they cannot be as flexible with clients as they normally would.
Ms Burns explained that they can no longer allow sleeping in communal settings in their facilities due to “the risk of infection and potential transmission of Covid-19, particularly in residential settings”, and this may force homeless people to sleep rough, on the streets, in tents, stairwells, and alleyways.
It was unclear if the deceased had tried to access emergency accommodation the night before he was found.
Facilities NOVAS runs McGarry House, providing 40 single-bed en suite units for individuals who are homeless, which is currently full, Ms Burns said.
“The same level of emergency accommodation units are still available,” she explained, but reiterated that, “during periods of very cold weather, where we could support people in communal areas, we can’t do that now, as we are restricting people coming in and out of services, because of Covid”.
“We know there is rough sleeping in Limerick, and the low temperatures make homeless people extremely vulnerable.”
“It is a precarious life” and Covid has “limited the flexibility” around providing accommodation.
“Services are not able to support as many as they would want, due to infection control, and we have been seeing the consequences of that.”
Temperatures plummeted below zero over recent nights and there are forecasts of snow tonight.
The deceased, who would have turned 70 in July, had up until recently being resident in a co-living accommodation facility provided by Limerick City and county Council.
A garda spokeswoman said: “Gardaí are investigating all the circumstances following the discovery of a body of a male on Limerick Lane shortly before 8am, Friday 22nd January 2021.”
“The body was removed to University Hospital Limerick” for a post mortem.
While gardaí said their “investigations are ongoing”, sources said they do not suspect foul play at this stage.