Two homeless men living in Ennis public toilet ‘will die’ without help

Community leader fears for men unless they are given access to statutory services

Josef Pavelka  and Peter Baram in the public toilet in the market area of Ennis that serves as a makeshift home. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Josef Pavelka and Peter Baram in the public toilet in the market area of Ennis that serves as a makeshift home. Photograph: Eamon Ward


A community leader yesterday warned that two homeless men living in public toilets in Ennis will die unless they can access State services.

Josephine O’Brien of the Homeless Education and Learning Project in Ennis has known Czech national Josef Pavelka (58) and Polish man Peter Baram (35) since 2008.

The two are alcoholics and Ms O’Brien said: “I fear for them. They will die if the rules aren’t changed to allow them avail of statutory services. Josef has health issues and sleeping in a toilet will only make it worse.”

At Ennis District Court on Wednesday, where Mr Pavelka was appearing on public order charges, Judge Patrick Durcan said it was a scandal that Mr Pavelka was sleeping in a toilet.

The two men cannot receive any social welfare benefits as they do not have habitual residency.

Ms O’Brien said: “I know they have addiction problems, but they don’t deserve to be sleeping in a public toilet. It is disgraceful.”

Yesterday morning, Mr Pavelka was sitting on a window sill on Ennis’s O’Connell Street with 15 cents to his name.

The Czech national had endured yet another night sleeping in a public toilet in Ennis town centre, as had with Mr Baram.

‘Cannot’ return to Poland
Sitting beside Mr Pavelka, Mr Baram said: “It is better to live in the toilet than go back to Poland. I cannot go back there because of conflict in my family. I have €1.30 in my pocket and I can’t go back to my country.”

He said: “When I lock the door of the toilet, I have peace and quiet. Nobody comes into the toilet and I have two blankets to keep me warm, but the floor is very cold.”

Mr Pavelka said he does not wish to return to the Czech Republic.

“Absolutely not,” he said.

Meals provided
Local priest Fr Tom Hogan and a homeless hostel operated by St Vincent de Paul in Ennis provide meals to the two each day, while Fr Hogan also provides facilities for a wash and a shave for the two.

Fr Hogan said yesterday: “It is an awful indictment on our community that these two men are living in a public toilet.”

He added: “The biggest issue for them is alcohol. That is the real problem.”

Fr Hogan said that with any alcohol treatment courses, participants would have to be on social welfare at least or working.

He said: “The two are in limbo-land.”

Fr Hogan said that the local St Vincent de Paul homeless shelter for the two “has been very good to them. It is set up to provide temporary accommodation, but allowed them to stay there for two years.They can’t indefinitely accommodate people. They have 13 places and there is a constant demand on their service.”

Fr Hogan described the two as “two very pleasant fellas. There is no malice there”.