Freezing weather ‘a clear threat to life’ for people sleeping rough

Homeless charity secure sports centre in emergency response to extreme weather

Homeless people in Dublin say they will try to get into a hostel or simply wrap up as best they can, as Met Éireann warns exceptionally cold weather is on the way.

 

The Peter McVerry Trust homelessness charity has put emergency measures in place to protect people who are homeless ahead of the extreme cold weather due this week.

The charity is working with the Dublin Regional Housing Executive and local authorities in Dublin and Kildare to make extra resources available to ensure safe accommodation was available for as many people as possible.

Met Éireann has warned of a “two pronged” weather attack this week which will bring heavy snow thanks to a combination of winds from the North Pole and precipitation from the Bay of Biscay.

Pat Doyle, chief executive of Peter McVerry Trust, said it would be putting in place “exceptional measures” this week in order to get as many people out of the extreme cold weather which “represents a clear threat to life for people who sleep rough.”

The trust and the housing executive have secured the use of a city centre sports centre as an exceptional measure due to the expected severity of the weather.

The charity provides more than 600 supported temporary accommodation beds in Dublin and Kildare which normally operate on a 24-hour, seven-day basis.

It said the small number of ‘one night only’ or temporary beds that do not open all day will be available 24/7 until at least next Monday, when the situation will be reviewed.

Mr Doyle also said the efforts of a street intake team would be doubled this week with extra transport support being provided. This was in an effort to engage as many people as possible to warn them of the weather conditions and encourage them into shelter.

“The weather has been very challenging this winter and Peter McVerry Trust, in partnership with the DRHE, has been providing 45 extreme cold weather beds in Dublin in recent months. Again, these will now move to a full 24/7 access ahead of the exceptional weather event.”

‘An extreme snow event’

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, who is charge of Government responses to adverse weather, said that the National Emergency Coordination Group for Severe Weather would meet on Monday to make sure the country is ready for “what is looking like an extreme snow event”.

The emergency group would be coordinating all government departments and State agencies, including An Garda Siochána and emergency response agencies, to ensure the country is prepared, he said.

He stressed the importance of ensuring good communications with the public about the bad weather.

Mike Allen, director of advocacy with Focus Ireland, told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that there are about 100 people sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin with more in other cities around the country.

“It is an infringement of their rights in normal circumstances, but this is deathly serious in these conditions,” he said.

Mr Allen said the organisation was working with every organisation in the city to make sure there is a place for every one sleeping rough and that they know the place is there for them.

“These are very dire circumstances we are facing,” he added.

There are 30 “extremely vulnerable” people who have been identified and the teams working with rough sleepers will need to know where these people are and to try to persuade them to take shelter, he said.

“We know these people and we have a relationship with them.”

The approaching extreme weather was a time for people to pull together and cooperate, he said.