‘Well-intended groups’ encouraging homeless to live in tents, says Dublin CEO

Owen Keegan claims there is an ‘abundance’ of homeless accommodation available

Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan has said a "proliferation" of tents is adding to the perception that the city centre is not safe.

Mr Keegan said there is no need for so many people to be living in tents around the city as there is sufficient homeless accommodation for all of them.

He also blamed young people congregating and drinking causing “low level anti-social behaviour”.

He was speaking in the wake of an incident last Friday night in which Irish Olympian Jack Woolley was hospitalised after being assault in Dublin city centre. The taekwondo fighter needed surgery as a result of injuries to his face.


Mr Keegan said that objectively speaking, gardaí believe Dublin city centre is a safe place to visit, but the image runs contrary to that. “It all adds up and creates a perception that Dublin is not a family-friendly place or a friendly place for women,” he said.

Mr Keegan said there is an “abundance” of accommodation for homeless people, with 150 beds available every night, but that they are being encouraged to live on the streets. “There is a massive pressure to allow people just camp on the street and that adds to the perception of an edginess about the city,” he said.

When it was put to him by Newstalk The Hard Shoulder presenter Kieran Cuddihy that many homeless people thought sleeping in a tent on the streets was safer, he replied: "I don't accept that. I think being out on the street in a tent is objectively much less safe than being in a professionally managed hostel.

“There is an issue where, if you are in a hostel and a congregated setting, there has to be some limit on your behaviour. Some people find that very challenging.”

Mr Keegan said the council has removed tents but it is not a popular thing to do. “There is a whole industry out there about sustaining what we believe is an unsafe and inferior form of accommodation for homeless people.”

When asked who he was referring to, he said there are a “whole lot of well-intended groups delivering services on the street when our view is that people are better off accessing services in a controlled environment where there is a full range of services. “There will be a massive Twitter campaign against this because every time we mention this, they are all out objecting.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times