Wednesday 16 January 2019

'We have 650 people coming in for lunch' - Homeless day centre concerned for services without water supply

Queues for food at the Capuchin Day Centre
Queues for food at the Capuchin Day Centre

Sasha Brady

A homeless day centre in Dublin has said that loss of water supply is affecting their services today.

More than 1.2 million people are without water or subject to a restricted service.

Irish Water said the problems are likely to continue for a number of days and possibly weeks.

Alan Bailey, volunteer coordinator of The Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin, which provides meals and showers for rough sleepers, said that water restrictions impacted the early-morning visitors who arrived specifically for a shower.

"That would be very important to them," Mr Bailey told RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke. "They spent the nights walking the street and they come in to have a shower."

Mr Bailey said that the day centre is expecting 650 people to arrive for lunch today. He is concerned that they will not be able to provide hot drinks for rough sleepers who have been out in the cold.

"There'll be no hot drinks, it'll be milk most likely," he said.

Irish Water has promised the day centre that they would arrive at 1pm today to supply water.

"They said they should be here at 1pm with a supply for us. We can pump it into our tanks," said Mr Bailey.

"We're very much dependent on them keeping to that schedule. They have promised us that they will, so we're going to go with that and hope for the best."

Mr Bailey paid tribute to the staff who managed to keep the day centre in operation during the storm.

"We managed to stay open all last week during the worst snow and provide hot meals during that period," he said.

"We can't praise [the staff[ enough, we even had one member walk for an hour and a half to get to work."

However, Mr Bailey said the heavy snow led to a reduction in numbers of visitors to the centre.

"We had 350 on Thursday and Friday but we had over 1,000 people on Wednesday queuing for food parcels."

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Head of Customer Operations with Irish Water, Eamon Gallen, apologised for the restrictions and confirmed they could be in place "for weeks" as a result of damage caused to pipes during Storm Emma.

"They could remain in place for days or weeks so businesses can run during the day," said Mr Gallen. "We will also be prioritising hospitals and water levels are being monitored on an hourly basis.

"We don't want to be issuing restrictions and the decision is not taken lightly but we need to let reservoirs refill."

Responding to some who had no water in the Dublin region overnight, Mr Gallen apologised and said: "People at the end of the network will be hit harder, geography does catch some people."

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