Call for director of homeless body to ‘consider’ position

Campaigners ‘shocked’ at comments made by Eileen Gleeson about helping homeless

Eoin Murphy (left), originally from Armagh, who has been homeless since 2014, with Gerry Carney, case management, Inner City Helping Homeless. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Eoin Murphy (left), originally from Armagh, who has been homeless since 2014, with Gerry Carney, case management, Inner City Helping Homeless. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

The chief executive officer of Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH), Anthony Flynn, has called on the director of the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive to “consider her position” in the wake of comments she made regarding “ad hoc” groups supporting homeless services.

Mr Flynn says he is “outraged” at comments Eileen Gleeson made at a meeting of Dublin City Council’s policing committee on Tuesday.

Ms Gleeson told the committee that long-term homelessness resulting from years of “bad behaviour” could not be solved by the efforts of “ad hoc” unauthorised groups.

“For Eileen to fly in the way she has on her broom over the past 24 hours is rather shocking,” said Mr Flynn. “She really needs to fly back out. She needs to really look at her situation and look at her job.

“She needs to consider her position at the council and look at the comments that she is making regarding the people that she is supposed to be looking after,” he said.

Tea and sandwich

Among the people helped by ICHH is Eoin Murphy (41) who has been homeless since returning to Ireland in 2014. After spending many years abroad, he returned to Dublin three years ago and has been sleeping rough since. He is one of a number of rough sleepers who engage with “ad hoc” homeless groups across the city on a nightly basis.

Drinking a cup of tea and eating a ham sandwich provided by ICHH, Mr Flynn said that without “lifelines” like those provided by unauthorised groups, there would be a far greater number of homeless deaths each year.

“I was living abroad for over 14 years and returned to Ireland in 2014 and found myself homeless. I sleep with a group of people by the Ilac Shopping Centre off Henry Street. I don’t feel safe using some of the hostel services because some people take drugs and have alcohol issues.

“I don’t engage in this so feel safer on the street. A group of us sleep together as there is safety in numbers,” he said.

Mr Murphy said the comments made by Ms Gleeson made “no sense” to him as he faced another Christmas in a tent or on the street.

‘Absolute lifeline’

“These services are a lifeline to people like me. It’s an absolute lifeline and without it more people would be dead on our streets.

“I have lost a considerable amount of weight and without those teams coming around to us, we would be in a bad place. It’s something hot to eat or a dry sleeping bag they offer, or at times another voice.

“I don’t know why this woman [Eileen Gleeson] would say this. She doesn’t know what it’s like to lie down on the street,” he said.

ICHH said it would welcome a visit from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Ms Gleeson to show them a first-hand experience of what life is like for the homeless community. “I do believe that the Taoiseach needs to see the extent of the crisis and see how bad it is out there on the streets. Minister Eoghan Murphy has seen it and maybe it’s Leo’s turn,” said Mr Flynn.