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Thursday 26 May 2016

'Anti-homeless' bars placed at Tanaiste Joan Burton's office leaves charity director 'disgusted'

Laura Larkin

Published 26/01/2016 | 06:35

A homeless charity has hit out at "anti-homeless" bars that have been installed outside a building used by Tanaiste Joan Burton's department.

The Department of Social Protection has offices in Gandon House on Amien Street in Dublin's city centre.

This week workers installed metal bars along the outer ledges of the building, which one charity has likened to the anti-homeless spikes that caused outrage in the UK just a few months ago.

Director of Inner City Helping the Homeless (ICHH), Anthony Flynn, blasted the move last night, saying it was the first example of the anti-homeless barriers he could remember in Ireland.

"It's probably the worst place that you could have possibly installed them," he said.

"This is the department that is supposed to look after our vulnerable people.

"There are thousands of businesses up and down the city with homeless on the doorstep, and have they spent money on the implementation of these spikes, no they have not," he continued.

Unsympathetic

"This is the most unsympathetic way of dealing with the homeless crisis, it's a 'not in my doorstep attitude' and we certainly condemn it.

"The department has shown a real lack of consideration and sympathy and I would like to hear their reasons," he said.

Mr Flynn said that the response to the images had been overwhelming already and that supporters of the charity were "disgusted" by the fact that the barriers had been installed.

The bars appear to be in place in a manner that would block anyone from sitting on the window ledge, or using them in any way.

Last night a spokeswoman for the Department of Social Protection deferred all queries on the matter to the Office of Public Works (OPW).

The OPW leases the building on behalf of the Government from a private landlord.

Landlord

"The works to the front of Gandon House are outside the demise of the OPW and they are being undertaken by the landlord," a spokeswoman for the OPW said.

In the UK the issue of "anti-homeless spikes" has cropped up over the past year as metal studs were installed in London doorways and crevices to prevent rough sleepers bedding down. Last October a group of artists, who called themselves 'Better than Spikes', turned the spikes outside a nightclub into a comfy bed, complete with a bookshelf for passers-by to enjoy.

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