Dublin shop seeks permission to erect shutters to stop homeless sleeping in doorway

Disney Store on Grafton Street says activity in doorway has exposed staff to threatening behaviour and confrontation

Homeless people sheltering is an “improper use” of the doorway say CBRE in its planning application. File photograph: The Irish Times

Homeless people sheltering is an “improper use” of the doorway say CBRE in its planning application. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

Dublin businesses should use their influence to force Government action on homelessness instead of to force homeless people from their doorways, housing campaigner Fr Peter McVerry has said.

Fr McVerry was speaking as it emerged the Disney shop on Grafton Street had applied for planning permission to erect steel shutters to close off its recessed doorway at night.

In planning documents submitted to Dublin City Council, CBRE - agents for the Disney Store - says homeless people sheltering in its doorway was an “improper use” of it.

They say: “Staff members of the Disney store have observed the recessed doorway as being used by the homeless for sleeping, alongside apparent drug use being reported. This activity has exposed the Disney staff to threatening behaviour and confrontation. Due to this the Garda have been contacted on multiple occasions to deal with this.”

They propose a 3.5 metre wide and 3.1 meter high lattice-type sliding steel mesh gate “coated blue in a semi-gloss finish to match the existing shop front”.

Homeless people sheltering is an “improper use” of the doorway say CBRE and “we believe this a strong justification for the proposed works”.

Aviva Life and Pensions, which owns the building used by Disney, says it is “satisfied” with the plans and gives permission for the gates.

‘Unsympathetic action’

Fr McVerry, when asked what his thoughts were on the proposals, said: “Not much”.

“We have a housing and homelessness crisis that shows no sign of ending. I would love to see these shops working with homelessness groups to get Government to address this crisis. They have a lot of influence and they could be using it more constructively.”

Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, a former minister for the drugs strategy, said Dublin’s business leaders needed to “reassess their role in the city’s life, and their responsibilities to the city.

“Following on from the campaign against a proposed supervised injecting centre, their move against street traders and the ridiculous rebranding of the Grafton Street area this is another example of their poor civic leadership.

“It would be of more benefit to all if business leaders could engage with the homeless agencies and the city council with a view to enhancing the dignity and the life experience of those who use their doorways rather than engaging in this type of unsympathetic action.”