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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 10 July, 2020
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No checks made to inside of tent where man was seriously injured during 'hazard removal'

The man was sleeping in his tent when it was being removed in an attempt to tidy the canal walk way.

The scene of the incident this morning
The scene of the incident this morning
Image: Dominic McGrath/TheJournal.ie

THERE WERE NO checks made to the inside of the tent where a homeless man was seriously injured as it was ‘removed’ from Wilton Terrace in Dublin yesterday afternoon. 

TheJournal.ie understands there were three to four Waterways Ireland staff members and one DRHE staff member present when the incident occurred during a tent removal operation yesterday afternoon.

DRHE staff had first engaged with the man yesterday morning. 

Later yesterday afternoon, it is understood the tent was prodded and staff believed it was empty as it looked flattened out. The inside of the tent was not checked to see if a person was inside. 

It’s understood staff were convinced there was no one in the tent, which was perched at the edge of the canal. 

However, the man was sleeping in his tent when it was removed in an attempt to tidy the canal walk way. 

Only when the machine lifted up was it realised that there was a person inside.

Gardaí were alerted to the incident at Wilton Terrace yesterday afternoon. 

In a statementDublin City Council confirmed that the incident occurred during a process in which Waterways Ireland was removing tents that were “placed in a precarious and dangerous location”. 

The man received serious injuries during the incident. 

He was removed to St Vincent’s Hospital where he remains in a serious but stable condition. Dublin City Council has said the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) is currently engaging with the hospital.

‘Treated like rubbish’

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this afternoon, local councillor Mannix Flynn said the situation was “atrocious”. 

Let’s not beat around the bush, this was an accident but it was an accident waiting to happen.

He said that “it is time” that homeless services are brought under the remit of the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa). 

Hiqa is responsible for the monitoring, inspection and registration of designated centres for older people, such as nursing homes, in Ireland.

“It’s time now that Hiqa brought the homeless services and the homeless issue under its belt because it’s simply atrocious what’s happening here,” Flynn said.

Paul Murphy TD called the incident “horrific”. 

“Unfortunately, I think that there is an environment and a kind of attitude that has been created from the top of society which treats big corporations like royalty and treats those who are unfortunate enough to be homeless or rough sleepers, in this case, like rubbish,” he said. 

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has called for an immediate investigation to be launched by both Dublin City Council and the Department of Housing to find out how yesterday’s incident came about. 

Gardaí have launched an investigation into the incident. 

“The incident as reported by the media that occurred yesterday lunchtime is shocking, and I do not understand how it could have happened,” Ó Broin said. 

How does a homeless man sleeping in a tent along the canal end up being swept away and seriously injured?

“Eoghan Murphy is still the Minister for Housing and he, along with Dublin City Council, need to launch an immediate investigation into how such an horrific incident occurred in broad daylight, along a busy canal,” he added. 

This afternoon, Housing Minister Murphy released a statement saying he was “saddened to hear” about the incident. 

“My thoughts are with this poor man as he recovers in hospital. I’ve demanded a full report in to the incident which is under Garda investigation,” said Murphy. “My campaign poster which was located at the scene has been removed.”

Council’s response

Dublin City Council said in its statement that “every support is being provided” to the injured man. 

“Our thoughts are with the man,” the council said. 

“It should be noted that every action that is taken by State services is taken in the interest of health and safety of those individuals experiencing homelessness,” it added. 

Waterways Ireland has said that it works with Dublin City Council/DRHE to “remove tents along canals in Dublin where they have become a public safety hazard”. 

“Our thoughts are very much with the individual who was injured.”

Waterways Ireland said it is “cooperating fully” with the Garda investigation. 

The Health and Safety Authority confirmed that it was notified of the incident and said its inspectors were carrying out a preliminary investigation.

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About the author:

Hayley Halpin and Cónal Thomas

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