Homeless woman physically assaulted, called ‘piece of junk’ by male hostel staff, Dáil hears

Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan asks Darragh O’Brien what action he would be taking to ensure safety of vulnerable homeless

Dáil chamber

A homeless woman was physically assaulted by a male member of staff in a privately run hostel and a video of the incident shows her being called a “piece of junk” before being attacked, the Dáil has heard.

Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan said the assault occurred on a woman called Mairead on August 2nd and asked the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien what action he would be taking to ensure vulnerable homeless people are “safe” when they are staying in privately run homeless emergency accommodation.

“While this hostel is run by a private company, it is funded with public money,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

“The incident is recorded on video and it clearly shows a male staff member telling Mairead that she is a piece of junk before threatening to hit and crush her. The staff member then hits Mairead and forcibly knocks her to the ground.”


The Dublin Bay North TD also asked Mr O’Brien what follow-up support had been given to Mairead since the attack and “why was she left sleeping on the streets for several weeks after this assault”.

In response, Mr O’Brien said he absolutely condemned what happened to Mairead and this was the first he had heard of the case. The Minister said if Mr O’Callaghan had information or the video on hand, that it should be shared with gardaí as it was an assault and “a very serious thing”.

“There are many committed people working in our NGOs right across this country, working in emergency accommodation, both privately run and State run. That is not the experience that the majority of people will encounter,” Mr O’Brien said.

The Minister said he would be taking the issue up as “a matter or priority” and ensure Mairead got the support she needs. He also said he would like to know where the incident occurred, and whether it happened in the Dublin region, adding it would have to be investigated.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times