Heavy criticism has befallen Dublin City Council this week, following the removal of several jackets from the Ha’Penny Bridge, left in donation for the city’s rough sleepers.
Several jackets were left hanging on the rails of the iconic bridges alongside signs offering them to the homeless in the city centre, with images of the jackets shared widely on social media. The jackets were hung as part of the #warmforwinter campaign.
However, on Saturday afternoon, a video circulated on Facebook showing that the jackets were being removed by Dublin City Council officials, shared over 14,000 times.
A tweet was posted by the council late on Saturday night, saying that they were removed for ‘health and safety reasons’.
“Dublin City Council asks people not to hang clothes on the Ha’Penny Bridge for health & safety reasons- it reduces pedestrian flows & causes congestion on bridge. Please consider giving them to charity shops. Items collected by DCC will be redistributed via our homeless services,” the tweet read.
It received over 250 responses from people criticising and questioning the decision made by the council, with many saying that those who are homeless cannot afford to purchase items from charity shops.
Dublin City Council asks people not to hang clothes on the Ha’Penny Bridge for health & safety reasons- it reduces pedestrian flows & causes congestion on bridge.Please consider giving them to charity shops.Items collected by DCC will be redistributed via our homeless services— Dublin City Council (@DubCityCouncil) December 7, 2019
“Homeless don’t have money to buy from charity shops. Citizens try to give warm clothes to people in need. The tourist market is shocked but this is the reality of a paralysed government & council. People see the dire need & act,” Kristine said.
Others questioned the ‘health and safety’ reasons, saying that many tourists cause congestion and hazards on the bridge by stopping to take ‘selfies’.
“I’ve nearly tripped over tourist’s wheely bags while they’re taking selfies on that bridge – something they’re encouraged to do – so many times. Such BS to hide the fact that they consider homeless people nothing more than an embarrassment and inconvenience,” Azzy posted.
Inner City Helping Homeless’ Head of Communications Brian McLoughlin spoke following the publishing of the tweet, saying that Paddy Fryers – who founded the #warmforwinter campaign – was not contacted by DCC ahead of the removal of the jackets.
McLoughlin said: “The campaign captured the attention of people and highlighted the need for supports for people that are homeless… I have spoken to Paddy Fryers… he confirmed that no one from DCC has made any effort to contact him before removing [the jackets].
“This matter also raises further questions on orders from the council relating to homelessness as our teams have been advised that the council have removed some tents on people while they were away getting something to eat.”
In a statement to Dublin Gazette, DCC said: “A decision was taken by Dublin City Council to remove coats and jackets that were hung on the Ha’ Penny Bridge railings, by members of the public. The decision was made, based on health and safety concerns, in order to avoid obstruction and congestion occurring along a key pedestrian artery, crossing the river Liffey.
“The items of clothing will be redistributed, to those in need through Homeless Services. Dublin City Council recognises the well intentioned call to action, to which the public responded. It is the City Council’s duty to protect the public and prevent accidents from occurring on this footbridge, through any restrictions in pedestrian flow, particularly at this time of year when thousands of people use this bridge on a daily basis.
“Crowd surges are a particular concern and Dublin City Council must, at all times, put public safety first. This is a policy that we enforce, in relation to all objects left on the bridge railings or pathways.
“With mixed weather conditions expected over the coming days, during this winter period, it is likely that such clothing could become damp, rendering them unsuitable for use by anyone.
“Dublin City Council are very open to coming to an alternative arrangement, recognising the spirit of giving and generosity at this time of year. Dublin City Council will work closely, through our existing channels and resources, to determine the best course of action, in assisting with this initiative.”