Community centre u-turn hailed as victory by locals

by Emma Nolan

IN what is being hailed as a local victory, plans to convert the St Nicholas of Myra Community Centre into a 65 bed rough sleepers hostel, have been halted.

There was uproar in the Liberties when it was announced that the centre on Carman’s Hall and Francis Street was to be changed into the hostel.

It was due to open to the 65 men only rough sleepers on December 9.

However, but this is no longer going ahead following legal action by residents.

The High Court action was brought by the Carman’s Hall Interest Group, the Michael Mallin House Residents Association and youth and community worker Elizabeth O’Connor.

While locals are now being accused of “nimby-ism” the area already has the highest concentration of homeless and drug-treatment services in the State.

There are nearly 600 homeless, long-term supported, drug treatment beds and hotel rooms for homeless families within a mile of the Carman’s Hall centre including The Viking Hotel Lodge just across the road from the centre which already houses several homeless families.

Figures released by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) show that city centre areas have the highest number of homeless accommodation provided by them with Dublin 1 having a total of 866 people spread out the whole postcode. Dublin 8 is next on 666.

By contrast Dublin 4 has just 78 emergency places and Dublin 6W has none. The entire South County area has only 178 places.

Francis St man Eoghan O’Riain told the Gazette: “I’m happy people are finally being listened to.”

The residents’ groups, represented in court by Niall Handy BL, had claimed that neither they nor their public representatives were never consulted about the proposal to use the community centre, the only one in the area, as a hostel for the homeless.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted this week on an ex-parte basis by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys, who placed a stay on the Council’s decision until the matter next returns before the court on January 17.

DCC told The Gazette they received a legal notice on December 5 confirming that the High Court had granted leave to appeal the decision to bring the building into use as emergency accommodation for homeless persons.

A spokesperson from the DRHE said: “Consequently the scheduled opening of this service for December 9th is now suspended. The appeal hearing is scheduled for January 24th 2017 at the High Court.”

Cllr Mannix Flynn said the decision was made due to manipulation and lack of communication from DCC and the DRHE.

“They cannot just simply dump all of the homeless and addiction services in one area – they wouldn’t get away with this in an affluent area,” he said.

“It’s the same old story, the less well-off socio-economic communities are exploited in the name of charity but everyone is entitled to informed consent, the main issue here is that the local residents were not informed of any of this before major decisions were signed off on.”

Cllr Flynn also said it was “outrageous” that the community would be shamed and accused of nimbyism online for standing up for their community and services.

 

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