A man who was seriously injured when his tent was lifted by an industrial vehicle as part of a 'clean-up' of the Grand Canal in Dublin on Tuesday is originally from Eritrea in east Africa.
Homelessness outreach charity, Inner City Helping Homeless, said it had been engaging with the man for “about six months” on a nightly basis before the incident.
He remains in St Vincent’s Hospital where his condition is described as “serious but stable”.
He was described as “a quiet man and always in good form” by Pádraig Drummond, a volunteer with ICHH since 2015.
“I don’t ask people their private business about how they became homeless. If they want to volunteer that I am happy to listen but our role is to offer help and tell them what services there are,” Mr Drummond said.
“I have not been able to see him though I hear he is still in a very precarious position.”
Gardaí are appealing for witnesses to the incident which occurred between noon and 1pm on Tuesday when tent the man was in was lifted by a vehicle with a mechanical claw being operated on behalf of Waterways Ireland.
In a statement, gardaí said: “A male in his 30s received serious injuries in this incident and is currently in St Vincent’s Hospital where he is receiving treatment.
“Gardaí are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed this incident or any road users who may have camera footage to contact gardaí at Pearse Street on 01 666 9000, the Garda confidential line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.”
Waterways Ireland, which manages the canal, was removing up to 10 tents in the area at the time. An outreach worker from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) was present to assist people sleeping rough on how to access alternative accommodation.
Sources say the occupied tent was not opened but was “checked verbally” and there was no response from inside. The worker operating the utility vehicle was then given the go-ahead to move it. When it was lifted, however, there was movement in the tent and it was immediately returned to the ground.
The incident is now the subject of a Garda investigation, an investigation by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), as it was a workplace incident, and separate reviews by Waterways Ireland and the DRHE.
While the DRHE provides homeless services across the four Dublin local authority areas, a spokeswoman said it had no remit to decide to clear tents or items from the canals. This was a matter solely for Waterways Ireland, she added.
In its statement Waterways Ireland said it had been working “in co-operation with the DRHE to remove tents along the canals in Dublin where they have become a public safety hazard”.