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A bed for all by Christmas, Minister vows to city's homeless

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Alan Kelly TD at the forum to discuss the problem of homelessness at the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government in the Custom's House, Dublin

Alan Kelly TD at the forum to discuss the problem of homelessness at the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government in the Custom's House, Dublin

Tribute: Jonathan Corrie’s children Natasha and Nathan travelled with mum Catherine to visit spot where their dad died

Tribute: Jonathan Corrie’s children Natasha and Nathan travelled with mum Catherine to visit spot where their dad died

Jonathan Corrie

Jonathan Corrie

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Alan Kelly TD at the forum to discuss the problem of homelessness at the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government in the Custom's House, Dublin

THE Government has pledged that whatever funding is required to ensure no-one is forced to sleep on the streets of Dublin will be made available before Christmas.

The Environment Minister Alan Kelly said an extra 200 emergency beds will be made available "within days and weeks".

"If they want a bed, if they want accommodation, it will be there for them if they so choose," he said outside the Government's special summit on homelessness.

"In the city of Dublin in particular - and whatever we do in Dublin will be rolled out across the country - there should be no reason for anybody to sleep rough. That is the ambition.

"Christmas is coming and we aim to make sure that anybody who is sleeping rough will have accommodation available for them," he added.

DEATH

The summit was prompted by the death of Jonathan Corrie (43) in a doorway just yards from the gates of Leinster House on Monday.

Mr Kelly stopped short of putting a figure on what level of funding will be made available to deal with the homeless crisis.

Dublin's Lord Mayor was also in attendance at the summit alongside various NGOs, state agencies and Government representatives.

Christy Burke said it was probably "the most sincere meeting" he had ever attended with a minister "in 30 years".

Meanwhile Mr Corrie's former parter Catherine McNeill has spoken about the difficulties he faced during his life.

She said that, along with her children, she saw him on the street two years ago and gave him her phone number if he ever wanted to contact them.

"He was staying in a hostel up in Dublin and he stayed there for quite a while," she said.

"Then he was talking to his daughter and he said he was bullied in one of the hostels and someone took his wallet so that's why he didn't stay there."

She said he genuinely wanted help but wasn't sure how to get it adding that she felt it could have made a difference. Ms McNeill and their children, Natasha (14) and Nathan (16), paid tribute to their loved one.

"My dad was a lovely, caring man but he had a cruel life. I always wanted him to stay with me when he was leaving to go back to Dublin, but he never could," Natasha said.

"The last time I saw him was around two years ago and he didn't look too well."

Separately, the heartbroken mother of Mr Corrie has said her family did everything possible to help him. She and her late-husband bought Jonathan two houses, one after another, to live in. Reverend Robert McCarthy, speaking on her behalf, said he understood that Jonathan had sold both houses. He added that the loving parents went to endless trouble to help him.

Ms Corrie said she also wanted it to be known that she was able to speak with her only son as recently as last week on the phone.

Rev McCarthy said Jonathan had a drug dependency but the cause of his death would not be known until a post-mortem examination had been completed.

He said Mr Corrie had needed one-to-one, ongoing professional help.

promise

Following the summit, the Lord Mayor rejected the idea that the minister's promise to have everybody off the streets by Christmas was very ambitious.

He said the minister had promised "all the money you want" to deal with the crisis.

"Millions if you want it, there is no problem. That means if I go to the minister tomorrow and say 'look, I believe there is a property there for €2m, it can be kitted, it can be kitted out within a week', okay, there is a cheque'," he said.

"The minister, I believe, is sincere that it is an open door regards money. There will be no issue around money."

Junior Environment Minister Paudie Coffey said more "sustainable solutions" will be required to deal with the shortage of suitable housing in the longer term.

"It is a complex issue. The Government has committed €10m in additional funding," he said.

"The Government has an open mind and we're going to engage robustly with everybody that has views to offer, and we're going to listen."

hnews@herald.ie


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