A tale of city living, where anti-homeless devices are deployed

Destitute man finds refuge after being ‘evicted’ from his Rathmines doorway

The Department of Education has said a hoarding that blocked homeless people from getting shelter at the former college of music in Rathmines will be taken down immediately.

Dublin’s Inner City Helping Homelessness said the hoarding was yet “another step” to erect “anti-homeless devices” to prevent homeless people from sleeping in the shelter of public buildings.

Locals in Rathmines sided with the homeless man and complained he was “evicted” from a rough shelter made in a doorway of the former college, which lies to one side of the local branch of Dublin City Library.

Described as “well liked and part of the community”, the man had slept at the entrance for more than a year following relocation of the College of Music to the Technological University of Dublin in Grangegorman.

Locals wrongly blamed Dublin City Council for the eviction. But the council said it had not erected the hoarding and had “no further information about it”.

However, the council said its housing department and the homeless agency had been in contact with the man and he has now been housed.

Previously, he was reluctant to use homeless shelters.

The doorway was part of the Department of Education-owned property and not part of the Rathmines Library, which occupies only the front of the building.

Before the library closed due to coronavirus, the council said the homeless man had spend most of his days in the library and that he had been “more than welcome to do so”.

‘Sleeping on the footpath’

Following the council’s declaration that it was investigating erection of the hoarding, the department said “the temporary hoarding” would be removed.

The property, it said, is leased to City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB) and the decision to put up the hoarding was taken by CDETB, not by it. The CDETB has been asked for comment.

The department’s spokesman said it had been contacted about homeless people “sleeping on the footpath outside the building and another homeless person who was sleeping in one of the doorways”.

Inner City Helping Homeless worker Anthony Flynn said the hoarding was evidence of efforts “made to block homeless people instead of helping them”.

Local writer and musician Jack Sheehan posted a photograph of the hoarding on Twitter which by then had the words “who pays for pointless cruelty” written on it. It attracted nearly 5,000 likes by Tuesday afternoon.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist