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Dublin: 7 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019
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'Clearly isn't true': Dispute over claims there are enough beds for rough sleepers during cold snap

Mary Lou McDonald told the Dáil there were 86 people without a bed last night, but the DRHE said there was no shortage.

Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

WITH TEMPERATURES PLUNGING across the country this week, the number of people forced to sleep rough on the streets of the capital and the supports in place for them has been disputed.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald told the Dáil that there were 86 people sleeping rough on Dublin’s streets last night, and Inner City Helping Homeless said its team were told there were no beds available at 11.30pm for a number of people last night.

This was contested by Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) director Eileen Gleeson, who told RTÉ’s News at One that there was no shortage of beds last night and no need for anyone to sleep rough. She also said a number of people refuse to engage with their services, meaning they don’t accept a bed for the night. 

In the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that she’d been informed by ICHH that 86 people slept rough in Dublin last night.

“Not alone that, people have contacted my office this morning to say that those who were in hostels last night were turfed out into the cold first thing this morning and are now sitting around in tents near Heuston Station,” she said.

In a statement this evening, ICHH CEO Anthony Flynn said that it “clearly isn’t true” that there are enough beds available for anyone who homeless during the current cold spell.

“Our teams last night made four attempts to secure accommodation for people they met on their nightly routes around Dublin only to be told that there wasn’t any beds available,” he said.

ICHH also said that in some cases it isn’t an actual bed but a yoga mat and a sleeping on the floor of existing hostel.

The DRHE’s strategy to deal with adverse weather events has been put into action already with the coming cold snap, a spokesperson told TheJournal.ie.

The spokesperson said: “As mentioned by our Director on RTE earlier part of our Cold Weather Strategy that is already in place is to provide a targeted response to people rough sleeping, particularly those that are reluctant to engage with services or those that are long-term sleeping rough.”

In relation to the 86 number, our Outreach teams that are on the street 24/7, 365 days a year working with people sleeping rough, they have reported from last night that there were up to 30 people sleeping rough in Dublin City and up to 30 sleeping rough in the Dublin Region.

The spokesperson added that they are fully aware of the impact that this type of weather can have on people sleeping rough, and its teams are working with people on a daily basis.

In addition to the 250+ beds added to its capacity last year, DRHE added a number of contingency beds had been allocated for use during this cold spell.

The DRHE also urges people who see rough sleepers to notify them at www.homelessdublin.ie so that outreach teams can locate them quickly.

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Sean Murray

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