Homeless: Defence Forces sleep in Tricolour
Irish Defence Force veterans slept out on the streets of Dublin in tricolour sleeping bags yesterday to highlight the issue of homelessness which some members face when they leave the force.
The demonstration was organised by the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel (ONE), which supports veterans in coping with issues such as PTSD, disabilities and depression.
They also help to provide shelter in hostels to those who face sleeping rough when they finish their service.
The campaign aims to raise public awareness, as well as raising funds to continue to keep the service up and running.
Ollie O'Connor, CEO of ONE, said that hundreds of former defence personnel ended up on the streets, having dedicated themselves to tours in countries including the Congo, Lebanon and Syria.
"Our first homeless hostel opened in direct response to a number of veterans dying on the streets of Dublin," he said.
"Since then, we've helped over 900 homeless veterans from all over Ireland who could have faced the same situation.
"These 'sleeping flags' are bags we never wanted to make, but if we can't get enough funding, our veterans will end up back on the streets.
"The men and women we're helping have a special affinity with the Tricolour," Mr O'Connor added.
"These are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and our next door neighbours who joined the Irish Defence Forces to serve their country.
"When they joined up, they were young fit men and women.
"They didn't put up their hands to become homeless veterans."
The preventive services provided by ONE are more vital than ever.
The organisation provides more than 16,000 bed nights every year, between Dublin, Letterkenny and Athlone, with 95pc of the veterans they help moving on to permanent housing.