Homeless ex-soldier living in car

by Rebecca Ryan
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A former solider from Shankill is sleeping rough in her car and a tent and is calling on the government for a “helping hand.”

34-year-old Terri O’Reilly has been homeless for almost two years.

She is also suffering with health problems including “severe nerve damage” on her right side. Doctors have told her she will be bed-bound for at least five weeks after an upcoming operation.

Terri told Dublin Gazette she is looking for homeless accommodation on the southside, so she is close to her support system to recover.

“I’d need a bed and care. So that’s why I want to be on the southside because I’m close to family connections.

“I can’t go into the northside with medicine without the support of my family. My mother self-medicates me.  My medicine is in her safe. If any person who’s an addict knew that I had them and that I was living in a car they would probably come through the car window on top of me.”

Despite all the media attention in recent weeks, Terri said so far, the publicity has not helped her plight.

“The [council] keep saying that their hands are tied and that decisions have to be made at a higher power.

“Because I’m an ex-solider I’m entitled to go into an army unit in Smithfield, but because of my nerve damage the bloke who runs it says they don’t accommodation any help for that. They don’t accommodate my needs, so I can’t take my medicine in with me.”

When Terri came home from the army, she lived with her mother for a few months. She then moved into a flat in Dun Laoghaire for four years because “the landlord would only do a four-year lease.”

She then rented a room in Monkstown Farm and gave €800 as a deposit. Terri said she left after a week because the “slum of a bedroom” was unsuitable with broken windows. She said the landlord did not give her deposit back because she “did not give a months’ notice”. Terri then became homeless as she did not have the deposit for the next place.

She said that staying with family or friends is not an option for her. Her mother and Aunties have other siblings living there. “There’s just no room. There’s just no options to stay there.

“Then even my friends that live in council homes are bound by a law that if they’re caught letting me stay with them for longer than two to three nights they get thrown out of their home and I’m not having that on my conscious. I’m not putting anyone else in the firing line to save me.”

Terry said she cannot get social welfare as she does not have a fixed abode. She has been on the council list for 12 years and has been told it could take up to another three years to have a house.

Terry is asking for a “helping hand” from the government to get her back on her feet.

“I’m not looking for a house, I’m just looking for a homeless unit. I don’t want to bypass anybody on the list. I’ve no problem waiting the duration in a homeless unit on the southside where I know the people.

“I worked my whole life in this country, I paid my taxes. I’m asking for a hand, so I can get into full time work, so I can actually focus on getting a mortgage.”

Shankill councillor Hugh Lewis (PBP) has been helping Terry and told Dublin Gazette: “The Council have no available homeless accommodation locally for women anywhere across Dun Laoghaire, this is completely and utterly unacceptable.

“The housing crisis is deepening, and Terri needs support.  I am calling on the council to immediately provide a solution and respond to her needs by granting her access to self-accommodation.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Terri by a woman who trained with her in the army. The donation page can be found at www.gofundme.com/help-our-soldier-find-a-home

Dublin Gazette contacted Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council for comment who said they cannot comment on individual cases.

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