Gardaí, defence forces assist homeless services

Several people sleeping rough were brought to emergency beds


A number of people sleeping rough on Tuesday night were brought to emergency beds by the gardaí and the defence forces as major snow falls and low temperatures hit the country.

In Co Kildare a man found sleeping out near the Curragh was brought to a hostel in Newbridge by the army. A spokesman for the Peter McVerry Trust said the man was brought in at about 2am.

In Dublin, he added, two people were brought to emergency beds by gardaí. The spokesman thanked both gardaí and the army for their help.

Across the State homeless services have increased emergency bed capacity during the severe weather, while services that usually close in the mornings are staying open through the day.

The trust has opened 90 extra emergency beds at a facility in Dublin 8, some 81 of which were occupied on Tuesday night – up from 45 the night before.

Dublin Simon, which focuses more on medium and long-term beds, opened 17 extra beds, 15 of which were full overnight. Two individuals who were booked in for Tuesday night did not turn up, and efforts are being made to contact them on Wednesday.

Depaul, which operates 200 emergency beds at locations on Thomas Street , Little Britain Street, Mount Brown and Blessington Street will remain open 24 hours until Sunday, 4th March.

The Homeless First Intake Team (HFIT), run jointly by the Peter McVerry Trust and Focus Ireland, was out through Tuesday night engaging with people sleeping rough. Three people would not to go to emergency beds and were offered foil blankets and extra sleeping bags.

“Our team is out again this morning, and has gone directly to them /[THE THREE/] hoping they will come into a bed tonight,” a trust spokesman said.

Niall Keane, manager of the Focus Ireland HFIT, stressed sleeping bags were “a last resort when people refuse point blank to go into a hostel. We spend more time trying to convince them to come in. It’s never just giving them a sleeping bag and leaving them”.

One of the three, he said, was in the doorway of Liberty Hall on the quays, where he said there was “some shelter”, al though he added: “the wind coming in up the river would cut through you”.

He expressed the hope this person would take a bed on Wednesday night.

“We have been engaging with people about the storm the last few days and there is great awareness of it. People know it’s coming and that this is just the start of it,” said Mr Keane.

In addition to the city-centre teams, another was working with local authorities “in the regions”, around Blanchardstown, Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey, Monkstown, Portmarnock, Malahide, Swords, Lucan and Tallaght, linking with people authorities had concerns about who were known to sleep out in particular areas.

“We have lists from the likes of Fingal County Council, and reports in from the rough-sleeper alert system and we are responding to those. We have a long list we’re going through continuously.”

People can report the location of anyone they are concerned about who may be sleeping out at the website: Mr Keane said since Monday there had been several hundred reports via this, the amount usually received in three months.

In Cork, Simon has increased its bed capacity from 15 to 20 and is “identifying additional bed spaces in our high-support housing. Its day centre will be kept open 24 hours a day until Friday at least.

In the midwest, Simon is working with Limerick City and County Council to provide extra beds and to run a soup kitchen from 9am to 5pm for the rest of the week. All foodbank users are being advised to collect food early.

In Dundalk, between the Dundalk Hostel and the Simon day centre there will be 24-hour access to shelter this week at least.