Latest homeless death leads to call for ‘state of emergency’

Rough sleeper was found dead on Dublin’s Westmoreland Street on Sunday morning

A Dublin-based homeless organisation has called for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to call a state of emergency following the death of a man in the centre of the city over the weekend.

Gardaí have launched an investigation into the death of a man whose body was found in Dublin’s city centre on Sunday morning.

The man had been sleeping on the streets and was discovered just after 7am in the doorway of the Starbucks coffee shop on Westmoreland Street – formerly Bewley's Cafe.

Gardaí believe he had been dead for a number of hours and revellers who passed him in the early hours of Sunday may not have realised he was dead.


Garda sources said because the remains of the 10 victims of the fire at a halting site in Carrickmines required postmortems by the State Pathologist’s Office, it could be several days before the cause of the man’s death was established. However, they said one line of inquiry was that he might have died of a drugs overdose.

The fatality is the second among the homeless community in the city centre in the past fortnight, with another man who had been sleeping rough off Dawson Street in the south inner city found dead on September 25th.

The director of Inner City Helping Homeless, Anthony Flynn, expressed concern at the "undignified" manner of the man's death. He urged the Taoiseach to call a state of emergency and to seek funding from the EU to address the growing number of people sleeping rough in the capital.

Mr Flynn said the organisation was dealing with up to 150 rough sleepers a night, a 33 per cent increase in the past two months alone, while the number of women had increased by about 15 per cent.

In the past fortnight, gardaí in the city centre have begun a drive to engage with those sleeping rough and to provide them with information about services in a bid to divert rough sleepers into hostels and other emergency facilities.

Rough sleepers

However, while gardaí have engaged with about 115 rough sleepers in the past two weeks, the man found on Sunday was not among that group.

“It is strange but he seems to have escaped the net despite a high number of people who have been spoken to,” said a source.

Gardaí want to speak to anyone, especially those who have been sleeping on the streets, who knew the dead man.

“We think this could be an overdose but we probably won’t know for a few days and, even when the postmortem is done, you are probably looking at waiting for results of toxicology tests and that could add a few weeks on to the wait,” said a Garda source.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times