Fury over comments made on homelessness by Dublin City Council chief

by Rachel Darcy

A man died in homeless shelter services in the city on the same day Dublin City Council’s (DCC) chief executive, Owen Keegan, made controversial comments over the “attractiveness” of being homeless.

Mr Keegan had an interview with the Sunday Business Post and said: “The best way to solve homelessness in Dublin would be to provide no beds,” saying that the city is an “attractive place to be” because of the increase in homeless accommodation and the standards of same.

There was an intense backlash to the comments, with a number of politicians and personalities slamming the remarks made by the DCC chief.

In an attempt to clarify his remarks, he appeared on RTE’ Radio 1’s Sean O’Rourke show to say it was a “jocular” comment, attempting to explain that because services were “better” now, that people were presenting as homeless rather than living with family or friends.

However, the chairperson of DCC’s housing committee, Cllr Daithi Doolan (SF), said the comments made by mr Keegan “displayed total ignorance” and fuelled the culture of “victim-blaming”.

Cllr Doolan said: “DCC’s chief showed just how out of touch he is with Dublin’s homeless crisis.

“He displayed total ignorance of the facts and the causes of homelessness. His comments are fuelling the shameful culture of victim-blaming.

“Owen Keegan would better serve the people of Dublin if he focused on facts and worked with city councillors on providing solutions rather than headlines.”

It was also revealed that a young man had passed away whilst attending homeless services in the capital on Sunday – the same day Mr Keegan made his controversial comments.

Anthony Flynn, chief executive of Inner City Helping Homeless, and Independent candidate for Dublin North Central, said: “A complete re-assessment of homeless services is required. This man’s death has come on foot of the DCC chief executive claiming ‘homelessness is attractive to some’.

“Homeless services are in continuous turmoil. We have seen so many deaths in service over the last year; preventable measures must be assessed.”

In a response to queries from Dublin Gazette on Mr Keegan’s comments, a spokesperson for DCC said: “[Owen Keegan] will not be doing any further interviews on this matter and has no further comments to make.”

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