Mayor angered by Old Carmelite Monastery homeless hub objections

by Mark O'Brien
Mayor Ward said he was “furious” that one of the arguments used is the proximity of the Old Carmelite Monastery site to schools.

The Mayor of South Dublin has said he is angered at correspondence he has received in relation to the potential establishment of a homeless hub in Firhouse.

Cllr Mark Ward (SF) said he has received repeated correspondence from a resident expressing concerns that the hub would be situated in the Old Carmelite Monastery.

Mayor Ward said one of his goals during his term in office was to break the stigma associated with homelessness and was “furious” that one of the arguments used is the proximity of the Carmelite site to schools.

Mayor Ward was homeless in 2016 while serving as a councillor after his landlord sold the property he was living in.

In the correspondence the resident stated: “I appreciate the problem of homelessness in our county and am fully aware of the major challenges faced by Local Authorities in tackling the challenge of rising homelessness.

“However, I am concerned about the location of this potential homeless hub given the number of similar developments in a very condensed area along the Firhouse Road in the Firhouse area.”

The correspondence cited the Fr Peter McVerry Trust in Killninny Road as well as three social housing developments that are under construction.

The resident also expressed concern about the proximity of the hub to three schools in the area.

“The concerns surrounding these local facilities stem from the homeless centre at Killininny House in which the local area has seen an uprising in anti-social behaviour since its opening close to our local schools and green areas.”

Mayor Ward said while he had reservations about homeless hubs, he was “sickened” by the stigma surrounding homelessness.

He said: “When I read the emails this morning I was furious to see an argument used that included the proximity of schools to the Carmelite building. How dare they use this.

“The people who are in homeless hubs are people like me who lost their homes on the private market.

“The people in homeless hubs are Mothers and Fathers with young children themselves.

“What are people implying by using the proximity of schools to the Carmelite building?

“I am sickened by this stigma and if the good people of Firhouse want to seriously help homeless families, I suggest that they direct their anger towards Minister Eoghan Murphy and his failed policies instead of attacking and stigmatising the most vulnerable in society.”

Mayor Ward said he has had homeless families with young children come to his office desperately trying to find accommodation.

“The whole day for this family is spent on the phone ringing hotel after hotel trying to source accommodation,” he said.

“I’ve witnessed the stress that this puts parents under and in turn the trauma the children are going through.”

“Often parents do not have a phone or credit to call these hotels.

“I’ve allowed parents the use of my phone to call hotels and seen the desperation increase every time they are told there is no room in the inn.

“The look of hope in their children’s eyes disappearing with every call. “

He added that while he felt homeless hubs were not a long-term answer to the housing crisis, they were a better alternative than hotel accommodation for families.

“My understanding is any proposed hub on this site is only in its infancy and I’m angered to see this level of animosity towards homeless families.”

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