Tuesday 24 October 2017

'My dying wish is to stand up for others'

Thomas Finbar O’Mahony, who is homeless in Galway and has terminal cancer. Photo: Damien Eagers
Thomas Finbar O’Mahony, who is homeless in Galway and has terminal cancer. Photo: Damien Eagers

Laura Lynott

An amputee suffering terminal lung cancer said it was his "dying wish" to stand up for the human rights of homeless people in Ireland as he continues to sleep rough.

Thomas Finbar O'Mahony (44) is sleeping on the Galway streets after he left emergency accommodation.

Named after his uncle Thomas, who fought in World War II alongside the British troops, Mr O'Mahony said: "My uncle Thomas fought alongside his brothers. They were heroes and as a result I was brought up with high moral standards and I want to speak for homeless people because we are not being treated right at all."

On Wednesday, Mr O'Mahony fulfilled one of his dying wishes by visiting Dublin. "This was a city I loved and where I can remember so many good times, that's why I wanted to come back and I'd stay here if I had anywhere to go, but I know there's a huge homeless crisis here too."

Mr O'Mahony, a former builder and farm worker, was diagnosed with lung cancer in February. His left arm was amputated in March after complications with his illness and he became homeless in June after a relationship breakdown. The father of two was then dealt the blow that he had at most two years to live, two weeks ago.

"On the day I found out I was dying, I came back to the hostel where I was staying and my head was a mess," Mr O'Mahony said. "I told one of the workers I had just found out my cancer was terminal and they just asked me where my rent was."

Mr O'Mahony said he would rather sleep rough than in the hostel and now he is on the streets.

"I know I don't have much longer. I can feel the pain in my chest where the tumour is," he said.

He is due to go for a scan within weeks but in the meantime Mr O'Mahony says he has no place to sleep.

He says though he only lives off disability payments, he's been so affected by the plight of other homeless people, he's even offered up his own money to help them eat for the night. "This Government should be building social houses for people. I worked all my life. I am one of so many who has ended up homeless and we should have a home," he said.

The Department of Housing refrained from commenting on the issue. Galway County Council also did not wish to make a comment on the matter.

Irish Independent

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