Twenty homeless people have died in Dublin in the first four months of 2023, including one person who was aged under 17 years old, documents released to the Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín show.
The figures, seen by The Irish Times, show one male person under the age of 17 died in homeless services this year, while four people aged between 20 and 29 died. The figures were released to Tóibín by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive.
Three people between the ages of 30 and 39 died, and 6 people between the ages of 40 and 49. Four people aged between 60 and 69 died. The figures were for the period of January 2023 to April 2023.
In 2021, 68 deaths in homeless services were recorded in the full year, while there were 46 deaths in 2020, 27 in 2019, and 25 in 2018.
“These are harrowing and distressing statistics. Behind each one of these statistics is an individual and their family and friends. The ages at death are deeply concerning,” Mr Tóibín said.
“It’s chilling that over two thirds of these deaths were of people younger than me. Aontú has long been campaigning for an investigation into the spike in homeless deaths.
“Indeed it was on the back of my raising the matter in the Dáil that an investigation was announced in 2020. The reason I called for the investigation is because I was concerned that deaths tend to spike so much over the winter, I didn’t know then that we would be waiting three years for that report.”
The findings of the report, published last month and covering the whole country, showed that about seven homeless people a month died in 2019.
The study by the Health Research Board (HRB) used 2019 mortality data among people known to be homeless from closed files in the Coroners’ Service. It was the first such survey done and the HRB will repeat the exercise for each subsequent years.
Other findings showed that a large majority, 81 per cent of those who died were male with 19 per cent woman.
Four out of ten died in a public place, public building or a derelict building. Three out of ten died in emergency accommodation.
The cause of death in 55 per cent of cases was poisoning from opioids, benzodiazepines, Z-drugs or alcohol.
Almost all (93 per cent) had a history of substance use with a high level of polydrug use. There was a high proportion of injectors among the group, especially among men.
The findings of the report made for “sad reading,” Tóibín said.
“We know the causes of the deaths and what we need now is urgent implementation of solutions – we need the Departments of Health, Justice, Children and Education to work together on this – from DEIS schools to psychologists, to social workers and prison officers. It is a scandal that people are dying homeless in Ireland in 2023 at this rate and that the Government has taken so long to look into it,” he added.