| 6.4°C Dublin

Why are we unable to end the scandal of homelessness?

At around 8am last Monday morning charity worker Sophie Pigot was on her way to work when she discovered the body of a homeless man who was sleeping rough in a doorway on Molesworth Street, just metres from Leinster House.

She knew that something was seriously wrong by the contorted position of the man on the pavement. She called to gardai and the worst was later confirmed.

The tragic victim was Jonathan Corrie (right), a 43-year-old man. He was a longtime rough sleeper who had a heroin addiction.

His death is a grim and tragic reminder of the extent of the homelessness problem on our city's streets.


It is both an indictment and a judgement on us all, for our unwillingness or inability to tackle this longstanding social problem.

The Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly last week revealed plans to build 35,000 social housing units in the next six years, to great fanfare and Government backslapping.

Well, the tragedy of Jonathan Corrie certainly takes the sheen off that.

The fact remains that, for all the talk of our recovery and green shoots, every night upwards of 170 people, if not more, sleep rough on the streets of the capital.

Many more families are in emergency accommodation, homeless and rearing children in B&Bs and hotel rooms.

And others are even more vulnerable - addicts like Jonathan Corrie whose lives can hang on the slight change in temperature or a shower of freezing rain or snow.


Sr Stanislaus Kennedy of Focus Ireland told the Herald that she's never seen the situation as bad in 30 years of campaigning for homeless services.

Another campaigner, Br Kevin Crowley of the Capuchin Day Centre, told of the extreme hardships being endured by young mothers and their children, forced to leave their accommodation each morning and wander aimlessly around the streets of Dublin for the entire day.

There is a serious lack of emergency accommodation in Dublin. This has gone on for so long that many homeless now find themselves on the streets fulltime.

Thankfully, charities and volunteers take to the streets every night feeding these people.

These individuals, many giving of their free time, are the only reason why we don't see more cases like Jonathan Corrie's.

But they shouldn't have to do this alone. The State - and all of us - must step in to help.