The ceremony to turn on the Christmas tree outside Leinster House was postponed tonight as a mark of respect to the homeless man who died in a doorway just yards away.
A candle-lit vigil in memory of Jonathan Corrie (43) went ahead outside the front gates of Leinster House while flowers and candles were placed on the doorstep where his body was found on Monday morning.
One handwritten message on cardboard read: “A little too late. It is about the billionaires we know you look after best and forget about the rest”. Another drew attention to the number of vacant properties in the city. “I feel ashamed that in a country full of spare houses and rooms that we did not put a roof over your head”.
Many of those present at the vigil are homeless themselves and knew Mr Corrie .
A speech made earlier in the Dáil by the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly about the homelessness situation was relayed over a loudspeaker to a crowd of approximately 150 people who held the vigil outside the gates.
“He’s sitting there in the heat inside and we’re outside in the cold,” one homeless man remarked.
Gavin Hanlon, a homeless man who sleeps outside the former Anglo Irish Bank on St Stephen's Green, now a Starbucks, knew Jonathan Corrie. He described him as a "gentleman."
“He wasn’t one given to complain about his situation. I was actually on a bus this morning and I heard people talking about a body that was found in Molesworth Street and it was only then I realised that they were talking about somebody I know. I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me here today,” he said.
Mr Hanlon said a man, who had to be restrained at the vigil because of his rage at the lack of beds for homeless people, had a point. “It’s going to get worse and worse. People have nowhere to go. You ring the free phone and they have the thing taken off the hook because they just don’t want to deal with it because they are overloaded.”
Amy Malone, who organised the protest with a few others, said Mr Corrie had died because of neglect by the State. She queried why the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin has managed to find an extra € 10 million to deal with the homelessness crisis.
“We shouldn’t have to wait for a man to die for them to do something about it,” she said. “They (the Government) had the opportunity to make amends with this and rectify the situation a long time ago. There’s plenty of people with the skills and know how and they did nothing about it.”