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'The sooner it's boarded up the better': Official wanted door to be blocked to stop homeless person 'moving in'

The doorway was covered with wooden hoardings in late May, prompting an outcry on social media.

AN OFFICIAL ASKED for hoardings to be erected over a doorway in Dublin where a homeless man was known to sleep to prevent another rough sleeper “moving in” before exams were held in the building, internal emails show.

The individual, who worked for the Department of Education, wrote the email before the doorway at Rathmines College of Further Education on Leinster Road was covered with wooden hoardings in late May.

The building is leased to the CDETB by the Department of Education, and was used as a Leaving Certificate exam centre last month.

The boarding up of the location prompted an outcry on social media in May, because the location had been frequented by a man who slept rough, who was well-known by locals.

A spokesperson for the department said afterwards that the hoardings had been erected as part of works to facilitate exams inside the college in June.  

However, emails released under the Freedom of Information Act show that before the controversy, a CDETB official said they had been asked by the department “for the porch to be blocked up so another homeless person can’t move in” ahead of the exams.

The email was sent as part of an update to the Department of Education on recent flood damage which the building had suffered. 

Another email released under FOI shows that a department official contacted the college in the days before the doorway was boarded up, saying they had been in touch with Dublin City Council’s homeless unit and queried “how easily” the doorway could be boarded up. 

The official alleges they were told by another official in the local authority that “the sooner [the doorway] is boarded up the better as otherwise it will become a home for another person”.

Dublin City Council was contacted by The Journal for comment to clarify whether this was the case, but no response was received by the time of publication.

In the days after the hoardings were erected, there were concerns from the public that they had been placed there to deter the homeless man who had slept there for several years.

A spokesperson for the department told The Journal at the time that the hoardings were erected as part of works being carried out on the building to facilitate Leaving Certificate exams in the weeks afterwards.

The department also said that it had been contacted about “a number” of homeless people who had stayed in the doorway and on the path in front of the building.

“On receiving this information the Department contacted CDETB in respect of the doorway,” a spokesperson said.

“The doorway, as a fire exit, will be required to support the delivery of the Leaving Certificate examinations.”

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At the time, Dublin City Council confirmed that its homeless services had engaged with the man who was known to sleep in the doorway.

A spokesperson for the local authority said the man was offered accommodation in the area, and that its homeless outreach team would continue to interact with him whether he accepted that offer or not.

After the story was reported by media, the department subsequently contacted the college asking if the hoardings could be removed to allow access to Leaving Certificate students.

The hoardings were later removed after it was confirmed that the doorway was a fire exit. 

“We are in breach of fire regulations if that doorway is a fire exit,” a CDETB official wrote. “Please remove the hoarding from around the door as soon as possible.”

In a statement to The Journal yesterday, the department said that at the time the temporary hoarding was erected, the former college building was not in use.

“As planned during the month of June the building was in use as a Leaving Certificate examination centre and the doorway in question was used by the examination candidates on a daily basis,” a spokesperson added.

- Contains reporting by Stephen McDermott.

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