Homeless sleep in tents in Limerick as temperatures fall below zero

No room at the inn: people forced to sleep outside packed homeless shelters

Anne Sheridan and Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan and Nick Rabbitts

Homeless sleep in tents in Limerick as temperatures fall below zero

A homeless person is observed sleeping outside a shelter in Limerick

IT HAS been confirmed that homeless people are sleeping in tents across a number of locations in Limerick city.

And in addition, homeless people in sleeping bags have been observed outside the closed doors of homeless centres, which are full to capacity, especially as temperatures plummeted below zero.

McGarry House, on Alphonsus Street, which is run by Novas Initiatives, confirmed that it has offered assistance in the past to those sleeping in tents in the city.

When the unit is full to capacity, Novas stressed that it has no other choice but to give homeless people a sleeping bag.

In the past week, images emerged on social media of a homeless man wrapped in a sleeping bag at night-time outside the centre, which provoked the ire of the public.

“The number of rough sleepers in Limerick at the moment is very worrying. All our beds are full every night, and also our fold-out beds are also being used.

“But due to health and safety reasons there is only a certain amount of people that we are allowed to take in,” said a spokesperson for McGarry House.

The latest official homeless figures – from the Department of Housing – revealed that there were 217 people homeless in Limerick, based on one week in September.

Fianna Fail deputy Willie O’Dea told the Limerick Leader that the homeless situation in Limerick “is huge and is only going to get worse, given the social housing situation. It’s actually shocking and dangerous at the moment.

“The death of Louise Casey in Limerick recently was very sad. Irrespective of a person’s own personal circumstances, everyone should be entitled to a bed,” he said.

Fianna Fail councillor, and former detective garda Sean Lynch raised the subject of people sleeping in tents at this week’s metropolitan district meeting.

“These are people who do not avail of emergency accommodation for whatever reason, but they are residing in tents together for security reasons within the city limits. The powers that be know they are there,” he said.

Cllr Lynch said this situation heightens the need for a night-time cafe for homeless people to drop into.

Asked why people are avoiding emergency hostels, Cllr Lynch blamed the alleged widespread use of drugs, plus “intimidation and bullying”.

The revelation that people are now being forced to sleep in tents in Limerick comes just weeks after the death of Louise ‘Bubu' Casey, 31, who was found near the basement of a derelict building in Catherine Street.

“This year’s homelessness is the worst I have ever seen in my 16 years living in the city centre,” said Independent councillor John Loftus.

“I guarantee you that Louise Casey will not be the last person to die on our streets if this goes on. We need to make [tackling this] a priority otherwise we will be making the headlines for all the wrong reasons again.”

Figures released last week show there was 193 adults and 56 children living in emergency accommodation.

Council official Steve McNamara, who leads the homeless action team, confirmed eight extra beds have been given to people who do not want to be a part of the hostel system.

“We are also exploring a couple of buildings to open for emergency-type beds, and are hopeful this will bring 15 new beds.”

Mr McNamara warned there were difficulties around fire regulation of any new building, explaining the rules are “stringent”.

He also confirmed the local authority is negotiating over a cafe-style outlet “to allow people to sit in if they do not accept emergency accommodation.”