A PRIEST has pleaded with politicians to review policies towards the homeless to ensure the tragedy of Josef Pavelka – who had slept in a public toilet – is not repeated.
Fr Ger Fitzgerald, who was a friend of Mr Pavelka, also told mourners that he had given his ordination stole to be buried with him as a show of unity from the church with the poor.
The Czech man had at times slept in a public toilet in Ennis, Co Clare, before he was found dead in a laneway earlier this month.
At the funeral Mass of the 52-year-old in Ennis Cathedral, Fr Fitzgerald said: "We need to unite to ensure that what happened to Josef will not happen to others."
On April 10, Mr Pavelka's plight gained national attention after Judge Patrick Durcan described as a 'scandal' that fact that Mr Pavelka was sleeping in a public toilet. Twenty-four days later, his body was found in a laneway.
In his sermon before hundreds of mourners, Fr Fitzgerald said: "Josef's passing was a tragedy and has brought much publicity to our town – not all of which has been positive. It is time to unite, to take action."
Mourners included Clare's mayor, Cllr Pat Daly (FF), and former district court justice, Judge Joseph Mangan.
Josef's best friend, Polish man Piotr Baram, was not at the funeral as he is currently in a residential treatment programme for his alcohol addiction.
Fr Fitzgerald said: "It is not important if Josef wanted one euro, nor is it important that he was an alcoholic. What is important is Josef's humanity. To those in power in Ireland, I ask you, I plead with you, on my knees to you as a representative of Jesus here in Ennis, I ask you to review your policies towards the homeless and the weak."