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Sunday 18 February 2018

Fr Peter McVerry: 'A year from Jonathan Corrie's death, the homeless situation is now worse than ever'

73 families becoming homeless every month in Ireland

Jonathan Corrie
Jonathan Corrie
An example of a modular home

Alan O'Keeffe and Geraldine Gittens

Campaigner against homelessness Fr Peter McVerry has said the homelessness crisis in Ireland is now worse than one year ago when homeless man Jonathan Corrie was found dead in a doorway near Leinster House.

Today is the first anniversary of Mr Corrie's death, and a number of community leaders have called for the work on modular homes to proceed unimpeded.

Fr McVerry told RTE's Morning Ireland today the homelessness situation has worsened since last year.

"The situation is much much worse than last year. 270 beds were opened and within four weeks they were full and the numbers sleeping on the streets were beginning to climb again."

"On average, 40 families a month are becoming homeless. At the moment, the average number of families becoming homeless per month is 73."

He said the Government is not doing enough to eradicate homelessness.

"What they’re doing is welcome and it will make a difference in time but it is far, far too little."

"100 new beds opened last night to get people off the streets and that will be very welcome."

But he said: "The 50 people who go every night to the Merchants Quay night café… they are excluded from the rough sleepers."

"50 people sleeping on the floor in a large room is a scene that we associate with the Philippines after a hurricane."

"Most of the emergency accommodation that is available is of an appalling quality – you can have people who are drug free sharing a room with three or four people who will be injecting heroine, and may even be pushing you to buy heroine."

Meanwhile, the goal of having 22 homeless families housed in modular homes before Christmas is unachievable - according to the company constructing the fabricated houses.

Work on the Poppintree site in Dublin's Ballymun stalled after contractors abandoned the site a week ago in the face of protests.

Protesters were demonstrating in a bid to secbeiure a refund of €5,000 that many paid more than a decade ago for co-op housing planned for the site.

Despite a meeting between Dublin City Council (DCC) and contractors yesterday, building company Western Building Systems could not confirm last night when work would start again.

Rory McGuigan, of Western Building Systems, said the goal of having 22 homeless families moved out of hotels and guesthouses and into their own homes on the Ballymun site by Christmas would not now be reached.

Efforts were under way to come to a new agreement with the council to ensure protesters who paid originally would get either a house or a refund, despite the modular homes being erected on the site.

A meeting of the O'Cualann Housing Alliance, which took over from the original co-op, and Dublin City Council (DCC) took place yesterday in a bid to reach agreement on the building of 50 homes on another part of the same site.

However, Mr McGuigan said building work would not proceed until interference at the site had stopped.

The halting of work because of protesters congregating at the entrance last week meant 22 homes would not now be ready for Christmas - but he hoped some houses may be finished.

In a statement last night, he said "no work will continue" until the firm received assurances that staff and equipment would be able to work unimpeded by protesters outside the site.


"We will continue to work with DCC but will only go back to site once we know they have resolved matters and we are safe to work. We hope this will be in the coming days."

A spokesman for the housing alliance hopes that matters will be resolved promptly and construction work will be under way within six months.

"We appeal to everyone to allow construction work to go ahead . . . so that homeless families can be in their homes in time for Christmas," he said.

Irish Independent

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