Rough sleepers’ rough treatment in city centre sparks outrage

by Sylvia Pownall
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A homeless charity is demanding answers from Dublin City Council and An Garda Siochana after rough sleepers were forcibly moved on and their tents dumped.

A number of homeless people were moved off Henry Street last Friday where steel barriers were later erected outside the vacant Debenhams store.

Cllr Anthony Flynn, founder of Inner City Helping Homeless, said he has written to both the council and the Gardai requesting a report on the incident.

He told Dublin Gazette: “Displacing or dispersing homeless people won’t solve the issue. The council’s waste management department were involved and I’ve advised that they should direct their members not to participate in something like this.

“And what was the role of An Garda Siochana? Some photos appear to show them lifting the tents and placing them in the back of the waste enforcement trucks. They should only be there for breach of the peace.”

Cllr Flynn said the council’s defence that it had offered the individuals accommodation was not sufficient because many rough sleepers feel safer on the streets than in hostels.

Barriers installed outside Debenhams store. Picture: mulvanypeopleb1 / Twitter

He added: “Now Dublin City Council have put up barriers in front of a private business that is no longer trading and left its workers high and dry. We (taxpayers) have paid for those barriers.”

In a lengthy statement to Dublin Gazette, DCC said there had been a “significant increase” in tents in Henry Street in recent months, particularly around the Debenhams store.

It said its homeless outreach teams have interacted regularly with the occupants with a view to encouraging them to move into emergency accommodation.

The statement continued: “As we have stressed many times sleeping in tents, particularly in bad weather, is dangerous, unhygienic and a serious public health risk to both the occupants and at times to the general public.

“It is also clear that many occupants of tents are engaged in drug activity. Business owners in the area have been complaining regularly about the situation.”

It said council staff and gardai “worked in a very sensitive way” on Friday to remove tents from the location and provide more suitable accommodation “to the couple and individuals involved”.

There were nine tents, one of which was unoccupied.

DCC added: “Our Outreach Team assisted and supported all the individuals back either to their tenancies or into emergency accommodation.

“They retained their belongings but the DCC Waste Management Division took away all the tents.”

An Garda Siochana were contacted for comment.

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