Tuesday 21 May 2019

Man sleeping rough on quays highlights need for accommodation

A homeless person sleeping rough on the quays at Bridge Street, New Ross
A homeless person sleeping rough on the quays at Bridge Street, New Ross

David Looby

A man has been sleeping rough on the quay area of New Ross because there is no adequate emergency homeless accommodation in the town.

The man was seen lying in a sleeping bag at the old bridge, the quay, Bridge Street, New Ross, on Thursday evening and is one of several homeless people that can be seen in the town on any given day; if not sleeping rough, hanging around. Many are couch surfers, staying in different houses from night to night.

To date there has been no motion put forward by any town councillor seeking additional accommodation for homeless people in New Ross.

What has been passed has been a call for the housing agency Respond to use 16 apartments which are not in use in Irishtown for emergency or temporary facilities for people at risk.

Cllr Michael Sheehan expressed concern that following Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe's announcement on Friday that Government departments must reign in spending to meet the cost of the National Broadband Plan and the new National Children's Hospital, Wexford County Council's budget for accommodating homeless people will be slashed.

'There are 16 idle apartments in Convent Court beside St Mary's Secondary School. They've been vacant for the last decade. Officials in Respond have said they have no immediate plans for them. How can you justify that when there are homeless people and families in distress. We only have one emergency house in the town and if a homeless person can't get in there they are put in a B&B if they're lucky.'

Cllr Sheehan said a hidden class exists in New Ross; people who don't appear on homelessness statistics because they are couch surfing and, in some cases, haven't sought assistance.

'I am officially demanding that Respond renovate the apartments in Irishtown or hand them back to the council so we can renovate them for temporary or emergency housing.'

New Ross Standard