Ennis death ‘could have been avoided’

Homeless man could have been saved with more ‘hands-on’ response, says charity


The death of a homeless man in Ennis, Co Clare, at the weekend could have been avoided “if there was more a hands-on response to his situation”, a local charity worker has said.

Anthony McDonagh of Homeless Education and Learning Project (Help) said he had known Josef Pavelka (52) for a number of years, describing him as “a magic human being. He was a lovely person, very warm, kind and empathetic”.

Mr McDonagh said the response by the statutory agencies to Mr Pavelka’s situation “was confused and there was a lack of communication between people at the front line and those higher up”.

Mr McDonagh visited the Czech national and his Polish friend Piotr Baram (36) while they were living in Galway last month. The pair had come to national prominence when it emerged in the District Court that they were living in public toilets in Ennis.

Judge Patrick Durcan described the situation as a “scandal” and said last week that the two had attained “celebrity status” in Ennis as a result of the attention around their plight.

The St Vincent de Paul, in consultation with other agencies, subsequently provided the two with emergency accommodation at a tourist hostel in Galway, but they then returned to Ennis.

“What has happened with Josef’s death has been a terrible tragedy, but it is something that we said was going to happen unless there was intervention,” Mr McDonagh said.

“We have to re-examine how these cases are dealt with. It is a most bleak lesson though for our community here.” He added that moving the men to Galway “was only moving the situation and took the men out of their support network with detrimental effects”.

Mr Baram said yesterday Mr Pavelka was his fourth friend to die from alcohol “and I don’t want to the fifth to die from drinking”.

“Today, I am feeling bad, bad, very bad. I cry to myself only – not in a public place – about Josef. He is my best friend and he is gone. We were together every day from 7am until 10 at night. We never argued. I miss him very much.”

The body of Mr Pavelka was found in a laneway behind the local Supermacs outlet on Ennis’s O’Connell Street at 11.30pm on Saturday night.

Garda Insp Tom Kennedy confirmed that a postmortem took place at the Midwestern Regional Hospital in Limerick. “No final results of the postmortem will be released pending toxicology results,” he said

Friends yesterday left bouquets of flowers with a message on one reading “Josef. Rest in Peace, We’ll Miss You, From Your Friends”.

Mr Baram said yesterday that he would like to get treatment for his alcohol addiction.

“If somebody tells me to go to a treatment centre in Limerick, Cork or Galway, I will go.

“Drink killed my best friend Josef and I know I must stop drinking. I am now drinking less. Drink has now killed four friends of mine in Ennis over the past few years and I don’t want to the fifth to die from drinking.”

Mr Baram confirmed yesterday that after their return to Ennis from Galway, “myself and Josef were drinking much more as people gave us drink and money that we used to buy drink”.

Mr Baram also confirmed that the two had each received social welfare payments of €100 each last Friday. “I don’t know if there will be any more money from social welfare.”

Mr Baram continues to sleep rough around Ennis and did not want to say where he was sleeping last night or tonight in case local gardaí would find out.

Garda Insp Kennedy confirmed that Ennis gardaí were liaising with Interpol to make contact with Mr Pavelka’s family concerning the repatriation of his body home.

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