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Tragic Jonathan tells of his 30 years of hell living on the streets in new TV documentary

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Jonathan Corrie

Jonathan Corrie

Jonathan Corrie

Jonathan Corrie had been homeless for 30 years after leaving his family at the age of 13, it has emerged.

The 43-year-old dad was interviewed three years ago by a student freelance journalist and told her that he often preferred to sleep on the street because he got less hassle than when he stayed in hostels.

In the interview with Louisa McGrath, Jonathan said he moved to Dublin because he kept on getting moved-on by gardai where he grew up in Kilkenny.

"I'm staying in a hostel now but it's closing in two months due to funds being cut," he explained at the time.

"I lived in a squat for one-and-a-half years, and I've been in a hostel for one-and-a-half years," he added.

"Dublin is better than Kilkenny for begging because I get food and more money," said Jonathan, adding that he could collect €30 in three hours sitting in a doorway.

"That's more than I'd get if I had a real job," he had added, saying he was a drug user and most homeless people beg to support their drug habit.

Jonathan was nicknamed 'Teardrop' because of a tattoo on his right cheek.

He was recently filmed as part of an RTE documentary, due to be aired tomorrow, which follows the creation of a group of homeless singers called the High Hopes Choir.

Although Corrie declines to join the group, he tells how he had been living on the streets for two years.

In the short vox pop clip, the he is seen being approached by David Brophy, the former principal conductor of the RTE Concert Orchestra, as Brophy walks around the capital in his bid to build a choir of homeless people.

At last night's vigil on Molesworth Street, where Jonathan died, friends recalled a man who was quiet and placid.

"He had his own demons, we all do," said Tommy Cunningham (40) who appears in the High Hopes Choir programme tomorrow.

"He never hurt anyone, he never spoke ill of anyone," he added.

Meanwhile, Dublin's Lord Mayor Christy Burke attended the vigil last night and said that the misery of homelessness has to end.

He said he is going to call a summit at the Mansion House on Friday afternoon, with key players with ideas and views, and an action plan will be drawn up. He said he wants the plan to begin the next day, not next year.

In addition, he wants government policy in relation to the issue to be brought forward.

He said that among those who will be at the summit on Friday will be a number of charities involved in helping the homeless. "It's time for action. End the misery, and end it now," he said.

Anthony Flynn, director of the Inner City Helping Homeless group, said that it was hoped to get key personnel from the across the board at the meeting to tackle the problem.

"Hopefully, people will put their heads together and get some ideas across on how we can sort the problem."

Tony Sweeney, also from the Dublin Inner City Helping Homeless group, knew the deceased man. "He was a quiet guy. We would have met him on a regular basis. Mr Sweeney added that people are sleeping out in the open, with not even a sleeping bag or blanket.

Tragically, it emerged yesterday that Mr Corrie was offered a bed in a homeless shelter just last week but declined the place.

Alice Leahy from the TRUST charity said he called on them up to twice a week for five years. "He was always very polite," she said.

Elsewhere, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has made available a property to cater for up to 40 homeless people f.

The lack of accommodation spaces and shelters has come under increased criticism, and yesterday Archbishop Martin said that following talks with staff, he was in a position to make a substantial Diocesan property available.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese said the exact property and its location is not being revealed until further work is carried out on it.

But sources say there are also fears of objections from members of the public if the location, close to the north inner city, is revealed.

"Archbishop Martin has advised staff to make contact with the city's Homeless Executive in order to proceed as quickly as possible," the spokeswoman said.


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