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Alan Kelly will hold an emergency summit after homeless man found dead near Leinster House

The body of a man who had been sleeping rough was discovered in a doorway on Molesworth Street yesterday morning.

Flowers at the spot where Jonathan Corrie was found dead yesterday morning.
Flowers at the spot where Jonathan Corrie was found dead yesterday morning.
Image: Gerry Adams via Twitter

Updated 12.45pm

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER ALAN Kelly is to convene a special forum on homelessness this Thursday in the wake the discovery of deceased homeless man just yards from Leinster House yesterday.

Kelly said he will meet with Dublin’s four elected mayors, local authority CEOs and representatives from voluntary organisations to “address the serious challenges posed by homelessness in the Dublin region”.

He is also inviting the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, to meet with him on Thursday. Kelly said homelessness “is complex and is about much more than just funding and money”.

He added: “As a state we are spending over €1 billion on various housing supports and builds and are increasing the budget to deal with homeless services.”

Earlier, Dublin’s lord mayor Christy Burke offered to host an emergency summit on the housing crisis in the capital, describing the situation as a national disgrace.

He was speaking in the wake of the discovery of deceased homeless man, named as John Corrie, who was found in a doorway on Molesworth Street near Leinster House yesterday morning.

Burke said any summit must involve decision makers in the area and include a high level representative from the Department of the Taoiseach.

Burke also believes that such a summit can only be effective if it results in focused actions that can be delivered immediately.

“Homelessness is a greater problem now than it has been in many years. What we can do now is work together to ensure we are using the resources we have more effectively. This won’t solve homelessness but it can help us house more people in the short-term and prevent tragedies. I am calling on all leaders in the sector to come together to discuss this without delay,” Burke stated.

Earlier speaking on Morning Ireland, Archbishop Martin also called for a summit to be held on the growing problem, expressing his deep sorrow at Corrie’s death.

He said that various groups fighting homelessness have been “repeatedly calling attention to the existence of a real crisis of homelessness in Dublin”.

Martin also said he has made a diocesan property available for emergency homeless accommodation in the centre of the capital. It could provide shelter for between 30 and 40 homeless people in the north-inner city and could be set up before Christmas. 

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ’s 2fm earlier, the woman who discovered Corrie’s body said that when she checked his pulse he ”ice cold” and she then realised that the man was not alive. 

Sophie Pigot said: “I just went over to inquire if he was okay and he didn’t answer and then he just looked so unbelievably uncomfortable in the position he was lying and then I touched his back and said ‘Sir are you okay?’ and got no response.”

She said she was extremely sad and shocked that something like this could happen in Ireland. She posted about the discovery on Facebook yesterday:

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 12.09.58 Source: Facebook

‘Shocking’

Agriculture and Defence Minister Simon Coveney described the man’s death as “shocking” and said more emergency accommodation is needed in the capital.

At a meeting of Dublin City Council last night, members backed a motion calling on Chief Executive Owen Keegan to identify unused Council property in the city centre area to be converted into temporary shelters.

The CEO of the Dublin Simon Community has said “significant” action needs to be taken to address the issue of homelessness in Dublin.

Corrie’s body was discovered in a doorway on Molesworth Street, off Kildare Street, by Pigot at around 8am yesterday. His body was taken to the city morgue, and a Garda investigation of the scene has been carried out.

Dublin Simon’s Sam McGuinness said he believed he knew the man.

“If it is this particular man, he was booked into a hostel early last week but he didn’t show,” McGuinness told RTÉ’s Six One yesterday.

We brought him down as far as the the hostel but it was up to him to go in.

McGuinness described the homelessness problem in the city as an “emergency,” adding:

It’s not just spiraling out of control, it is out of control.

168 people were found to be sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin in the latest official count last month — twice the number of two years’ ago.

‘Indictment of government’

A major announcement by the Government last week on social housing was criticised by some for doing little to help those in most acute need.

Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis said the man’s death was “highly symbolic”.

Just last week the government produced a plan to deal with the housing crisis in this state yet there was not one emergency measure in that plan to deal with the homeless crisis.

“That is an indictment on this government and this man’s death is an indictment on this and previous governments that have neglected the homeless crisis.”

Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen said the man’s death, in the shadow of the national parliament, was “a sharp reminder of the scale of the problem we face as a country”. Cowen said he planned to raise the issue with Environment Minister Alan Kelly in a committee meeting today.

- additional reporting by Daragh Brophy, Christina Finn, Órla Ryan and Hugh O’Connell 

First published 1 December

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Nicky Ryan

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