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'I'm sick of being railroaded': Angry scenes as locals meet to oppose State's largest homeless hostel

Avalon House in Dublin 2 is set to become a 150-bed homeless hostel in January.

Avalon House is set to become the state's largest homeless hostel in January
Avalon House is set to become the state's largest homeless hostel in January
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

LOCALS IN DUBLIN’S south inner city have expressed anger towards representatives from Dublin City Council and the Peter McVerry Trust over plans to open Ireland’s largest hostel for rough sleepers on Aungier Street.

The council’s deputy chief executive Brendan Kenny and Peter McVerry’s deputy CEO Brian Friel were met with hostility during a community meeting to address concerns about the hostel on Tuesday evening.

Two individuals, including a member of the housing activist group Dublin Renters’ Union, were also ejected by a number of locals after independent councillor Mannix Flynn, who organised the meeting, was heckled during a speech in which he spoke about his record on helping the homeless.

The meeting was called after it emerged in recent weeks that the trust will take over Avalon House, which currently operates a tourist hostel, from the end of next January.

It is intended that the trust and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) will use the hostel to provide overnight accommodation for 150 adults, which includes cold weather beds for rough sleepers during winter.

Locals marched on the hostel to protest following a community meeting last week, while The Irish Times has reported that businesses in the area will launch a High Court action to prevent it from opening.

The vast majority of more than 100 people at last night’s meeting expressed opposition towards the hostel, although some said they supported more housing and smaller emergency accommodation for homeless families.

Multiple objections were raised about a lack of consultation between the council, Peter McVerry and the local community about the proposals.

Others expressed concerns about the number of homeless hostels already in the area, the hostel’s proximity to nearby primary schools, and the proliferation of student accommodation in Dublin 8.

Kenny told the meeting that the DRHE required 300 additional emergency accommodation bed-spaces, and said that the opportunity to open a hostel at Avalon House to help meet demand for its services could not be turned down.

“If we don’t get accommodation for people or more beds for people, more and more single people will become dead on the street,” he said.

Friel said that while the Peter McVerry Trust appreciated the concerns of locals, problems which were previously envisaged by communities in the city where it has opened other hostels had not come to pass.

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“Very often as time goes on… we have had it confirmed for us that many of the fears that [people in those areas] had didn’t materialise at all,” he said.

But Mannix Flynn vowed to take a High Court action to prevent the hostel from opening, citing a 2017 ruling which found that homeless accommodation could negatively impact local communities.

“I’m sick and tired of being railroaded,” Flynn said.

“Stop trying to blackmail us in relation to those that are unfortunate enough to be on out streets in an awful state. Don’t use that as a blackmail tactic.”

Flynn also called for calm among the community and asked locals to cooperate with the council in order to prevent the hostel from opening in January.

This article was updated to correct the reporting of the number of beds in the facility. The article initially reported 155 beds, plus cold weather beds, but the correct figure is 150 which includes beds for rough sleepers in winter. 

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