'It's a very peculiar sight' - Plans to remove rough sleepers after 'mini marquee' erected on city quays
Plans are reportedly underway to remove tents from a Cork city quay after locals complained of a rise in anti-social behaviour in the area.
In recent months, a growing number of rough sleepers have erected tents along St Patrick’s Quay in the city centre.
It's believed more than eight people are currently sleeping rough in the area, including one man who has erected a marquee-style tent along the quay.
Local Fine Gael councillor Des Cahill called for the tents to be removed claiming they are an "eyesore".
"Tents aren't appropriate in the city centre. It's been going on for the past year but it has escalated recently. On St Patrick's Quay, it's particularly bad. In other areas, while there shouldn't be tents, they aren't causing any problems."
Mr Cahill said that the marquee-style tent is "peculiar" and is causing problems in the area.
"It's like a mini marquee. The gentleman put a sign up asking for money and people contributed to it. He calls it the 'Freedom Wharf' and goes by 'NoName'. There are mixed views about it. It's a very peculiar sight for people who enter Cork on the buses. A lot of people have followed him to the area. It's a massive eyesore."
The councillor said that he spoke to local residents who are concerned about the tents on St Patrick's Quay.
"One doesn't want to leave her house in the area because of fighting and the noise and she is concerned now that the evenings are getting darker."
He added that Cork City Council has been engaging with the rough sleepers and that they have all been offered alternative accommodation, but have refused.
"St Patrick's Quay will probably be the area where the tents will be removed first. There were four tents on Boreenmanna Road that were removed four months ago and they haven't returned and some were removed from Monaghan road too. St Patrick's Quay is the next one."
Mr Cahill said that as well as the tents being illegal, they are also "highly dangerous".
"The tents are right on the edge of the water and if one of those poor people fall in, who is to blame then?"
He said that Cork City Council are now engaging with gardai to remove the tents from the area.
"We have adequate temporary accommodation in the city to meet the needs of rough sleepers and we're always looking to build more houses. There are eight or so rough sleepers in the city but thankfully we do have beds available."
Paul Sheehan from Cork Simon Community said that their outreach teams regularly engage with the people living in the tents along the quays.
"We try and encourage them to engage with our services and to take up emergency beds but they have declined. They may have trust issues, they may be avoiding people or because our shelters are very busy they may not be the most pleasant places to be."
Mr Sheehan said that if the council wants to remove the tents from the area, they need to provide better alternatives for people.
"Especially now that it's coming up to the autumn and winter, people sleeping rough need somewhere to sleep. We need to dig deeper into why these people are choosing to sleep rough. There are enough emergency beds in the area but they don't want to sleep in them."
He added that while the tents can be an eyesore, the rough sleepers aren't causing any problems in the area.
Cork City Council's Housing and Community Directorate said in a statement issued to Independent.ie; "We know there is capacity in the hostels and the tent dwellers on Saint Patrick’s Quay are visited by the Cork Simon Outreach team and the City Council Outreach workers very regularly and invited to avail of the options available.
"The consistent response is one of non engagement and a wish not to interact with any services, as this is a lifestyle choice the people concerned have made.
"There were a total of six people counted as rough sleeping in Cork City Centre on Wednesday night/early Thursday morning of this week."