Thursday 15 November 2018

'They have nowhere to go' - Homeless warned to stay off the streets during Pope Francis visit

Gardaí have warned rough sleepers not to be seen on the streets as Pope Francis makes his way through the capital
Gardaí have warned rough sleepers not to be seen on the streets as Pope Francis makes his way through the capital

Conor McCrave

Homeless people are being warned not to sleep on the streets as tourists descend on Dublin for the visit of Pope Francis this weekend.

Gardaí have warned rough sleepers not to be seen on the streets as Pope Francis makes his way through the capital for the World Meeting of Families, according to a local homeless charity

“They’ve been warned when they wake up in the mornings that they won’t be sleeping there this weekend and it’s been happening all week,” said Glenda Harrington of Friends Helping Friends.

"They’re not going to have anywhere to go. This just shows the disrespect being shown towards them. The Pope is coming so they are being shoved aside,” she said.

Friends Helping Friends is a volunteer-led charity which runs a pop-up soup kitchen on Westmoreland St near O’Connell Bridge every Tuesday and Saturday night.

However, to facilitate the Pope’s visit to Dublin Castle and the Capuchin Day Centre in Smithfield, the charity has been told by Gardaí at Pearse Street Garda Station that they cannot provide the service this weekend.

“The homeless are not going to have a dinner. I rang Pearse Street station and they said you haven’t a hope of setting up because barriers will still be up.

“People say it’s only one day but would they not eat for a day and then lie on the ground hungry,” she said.

“They’re angry. They’re saying the Pope is Catholic and he’s supposed to care for the people.” she added.

Hundreds of people queue for food on Westmoreland St. as it is the only soup kitchen available to the homeless on Saturdays.

“I see babies coming down with their mammies from hotels and B&Bs to get fed.

“These are people whose marriages broke down and landlords kicked them out. I have a lot of kids coming down to me from little babies to teenagers and all in between.”

Road closures will affect a number of main thoroughfares in the city centre, including Westmoreland St. where the charity operates.

Gardaí had not yet returned a call for comment at the time of publication.

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