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Concern for woman found near GPO by homeless volunteer last night

The woman, who was in a distressed state, told the volunteer she had been released from an acute hospital.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

A WOMAN, WHO appeared to be homeless, was found wandering the streets of Dublin last night after being discharged from hospital.

The woman – believed to be in her 60s, although she initially told homeless outreach services she was 81 years old* – was found, cold and in a distressed state, near the GPO on O’Connell Street shortly after 9pm by a homeless volunteer who runs a soup kitchen every Thursday night.

The Irish woman was found by Irene Coady Murphy, a volunteer with Reaching Out Homeless, who called Independent councillor Christy Burke for help.

Burke had just returned home after helping on a soup run with Reaching Out Homeless when he received her call.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from Irene when she telephoned me. In the more than 20 years that I’ve been volunteering with homeless charities never have I come across a case like this,” Burke said. “If Irene hadn’t have found her I’ve no doubt this woman would have been found dead as a result of hypothermia.

“Imagine an elderly woman after just being discharged from an acute hospital roaming our capital’s streets?

I’ve dealt with 12 and 13-year-olds who are homeless, but never a woman of this age. We managed to confirm what the woman was saying was true and that she had indeed been discharged from an acute hospital.

Burke said he called a member of Dublin City Council’s staff, who quickly arranged for the woman to stay in a hotel for the night. 

The councillor said he believes the woman may have experience of being homeless prior to last night as she repeatedly asked not to be placed in a particular hostel. He said this led them “to believe that she has been suffering for some time and has been out on our streets way before being found like this”.

Burke said that Coady Murphy told him the woman “had her wits about her” and did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

The hotel had originally informed them that the woman would have to be out at 10am this morning but the council has arranged for her to remain there until staff can find out more about her circumstances. 

Burke praised the council for “swift and professional action” last night. “They get a lot of criticism but they were very human in how they approached this,” he said. 

However he said the government needs to realise that the homeless issue is “affecting all age groups whether they like it or not”.

Our politicians need to wake up to what is happening on our streets instead of thinking of themselves and wanted to get re-elected now that a general election is imminent.

The numbers of homeless people in Ireland has increased to more than 10,400 for the first time ever.

The Department of Housing recently released homeless figures for November, which stated there were 6,696 homeless adults and 3,752 homeless children – 10,448 people in total without a home. 

This is slightly down from October’s figures which showed slightly over 10,500 were in emergency accomodation.

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

*An earlier version of this report stated the woman was 81 years old as that was the age she gave outreach services. This was later clarified and amended in this article. 

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Sarah Slater

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