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Timmy Hourihane murder 'reveals danger faced by homeless people on the streets'

Timothy Hourihane had been assaulted and had sustained serious injuries to his head and body.

LAST UPDATE | 14 Oct 2019

THE GOVERNMENT HAS been called on to take action to resolve the homeless crisis after the murder of a man in a “tented village” over the weekend.

Timothy (Timmy) Hourihane was found in an unconscious state by members of Cork Fire Brigade. Other homeless people had raised the alarm after a tent went on fire at Mardyke Walk near University College Cork (UCC) at 12.45am yesterday.

He had been assaulted and had sustained extremely serious injuries to his head and body. He was rushed by ambulance to Cork University Hospital (CUH) where he died.

Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan said the man’s brutal killing was a “stark and tragic reminder of the dangers facing those failed by government in the current housing emergency”. 

“The failure of the government to resolve the homeless crisis is now a threat to people’s safety. Timmy Hourihane is the second homeless man to have been brutally killed in recent months.

“His death and the death last June in Dublin of Peter Donnelly reveal the danger faced by homeless people on the streets, ” O’Callaghan said. 

‘We’re losing too many people’

The head of the Cork Penny Dinners charity, Caitriona Twomey, also called for immediate government action today. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Twomey, who knew the murdered man, said everyone at the charity is “deeply saddened and hurt” by the news. 

“We will stand firm now and plead with our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to step in and do something. 

“We’re losing too many people, there’s too many people on our streets, the homeless crisis is really over the top.

We’ve been talking about this for years and we’ve been telling the government that something needs to be done and this – what happened over the weekend – has caused untold grief for a family out there and untold grief in the homeless community.

She explained that a number of homeless people have been sleeping in tents at this location.

“When you have a load of people staying in one area it can be a recipe for disaster,” she said.

Twomey said the government needs to focus on providing treatment centres and support services as well as housing if they are to succeed in tackling the problem.

‘You’re like a zero’

Timmy Hourihane did an interview with Cork’s Red FM in December last year, and described his life on the street and how people in shops and on public transport looked at him “in a bad way”. 

“They look at you like you’re a zero,” he told Red FM’s Neil Prendeville. 

People close to him said his struggles with alcohol addiction started close to a decade ago when he lost his partner Michael to cancer. He was a highly trained chef, but found it difficult to maintain employment once his addiction took hold and he was living on the streets. 

He said he had been attacked a number of times in the past. 

“The last attack happened two weeks ago, the person stomped on my hand and I ended up with fractures on my hand, plus fractures down my right side. The actual rib went into my lung. I didn’t have a cent in my pocket and they probably thought I had something.”

He said some areas of the city were safer than others to sleep in, but everywhere was cold. 

“We might have a duvet or a few blankets, but you’re still cold. You wake up at four and you’re hypothermic, you’re shaking with the cold.”

At the time of the interview, Timmy said he was optimistic that things in his life could improve.

“I’m going to fight for myself and I’d love to fight for other people who are homeless as well. We need to stand up for ourselves at last,” he said.

Appeal for witnesses

Yesterday Garda Superintendent Michael Comyns of Anglesea Street held a media briefing at the site of the murder.

“As a result of our inquiries from there we set up an incident room. The man has injuries consistent with an assault. He does not have injuries consistent with being in a fire,” he said.

He appealed for witnesses or anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

Superintendent Comyns said they were hoping to receive dashcam footage from passing taxi drivers and motorists.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Anglesea Street Garda Station on 021 4522000, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station.

- With reporting by Olivia Kelleher.

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