Homeless man found dead near Dáil Éireann

Some 168 people were found sleeping on the city’s streets during official count last month

A homeless man was found dead in a doorway on Molesworth Street in Dublin this morning.   Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

A homeless man was found dead in a doorway on Molesworth Street in Dublin this morning. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

 

A homeless man has been found dead on a street near Dáil Éireann in Dublin.

Gardaí said the man, who was in his 40s, was discovered on Molesworth Street at about 8am.

A doctor was called and the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

His body was removed to the Dublin morgue where a postmortem is to be carried out.

Gardaí are investigating the man’s death but it is understood that it is not being treated as suspicious.

Sam McGuinness, the chief executive of homeless charity Dublin Simon, said there had been a “phenomenal” increase in rough sleeping in Dublin this year.

He said that as much as agencies attempted to help people on the street, it was likely “that as winter is coming in we are going to have more deaths”.

The number of people sleeping rough in Dublin was last month recorded at the highest level since official counting began in 2007.

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive said some 168 people were found sleeping on the city’s streets on the night of November 11th when the official 2014 ‘winter rough sleeper count’ was conducted.

This is a 20 per cent increase on the 139 people found sleeping on the streets in the 2013 winter count, and 180 per cent increase since November 2009.

Mr McGuinness said people aged from 25 to 40 now accounted for some 60 per cent of those sleeping rough which was a change from the past when “people’s idea of homelessness was the auld fella”.

“It’s a slow death on the street,” he said. “Everybody who is on the street is, in some way, fading. People are tired on the street, they are undernourished, their medication is poor and then as well as that they are open to other exposures like somebody feeding them drink or drugs.”

Mr McGuinness said given the incident happened close to Dáil Éireann, there might be some hope “people can open their eyes” following the man’s death.

“It’s not good enough that this should be happening just on the doorstep of our parliament,” he said. “Something radical has to be done because we are going to definitely have more deaths of innocent people on the street and it is just going to keep going.”

The Government last week announced plans to build or refurbish 35,000 social housing units within the next six years and support an additional 75,000 households under a new housing assistance payments scheme.

Mr McGuinness said it was a “terrific plan” but the difficulty was pinpointing how long people on a housing waiting lists or in emergency accommodation would have to wait to see their circumstances improve.

He said that at the beginning of the decade, when the country experienced two particularly cold winters, there were 12 or 15 rough sleepers in Dublin who were “entrenched” and wouldn’t come into accommodation offered.

“That’s how well we were able to do in the past but now it is drastic. It’s actually looking like a situation that is hopeless,” he said.

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, a founder of homeless charity Focus Ireland, said she knew of 45 families who became homeless last month and that rising rental costs were having a significant impact.

She described the social housing strategy announced by the Government last week as “great” but that it could be four to five year before people felt the benefit. A “crisis strategy” to help people remain in their homes was needed, she said on RTÉ’s News at One.

Sr Stan offered her condolences to the deceased man’s family and said his death was a sign of the “failure of the State”.

“I’m going to say what an awful tragedy this is that somebody should die in such circumstances and so publicly and to offer my sincere condolences to the man’s family and friends,” she said.

“I think what it says to us that this man like so many others who are sleeping out are a sign of the failure of the State ... of the failure of the State in the past and in the present to offer them the support they needed to live independently.”