'Absolutely unacceptable': Homeless pair sleep in tent at Limerick basement

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Email:

nick@limerickleader.ie

'Absolutely unacceptable': Homeless pair sleep in tent at Limerick basement

Sad sight: a tent erected in the basement of a Limerick city centre business premises

AS the homelessness crisis intensifies, a young couple have been forced to live in a tent in the basement of a city centre business.

The fragile tent, which is patched up with bin bags to protect them from the elements, is providing shelter for the pair who cannot find a place to sleep at night.

The situation has been described as “absolutely unacceptable” by Dr Una Burns, the policy boss of homelessness charity Novas, who offered her support.

She expressed concerns about the health and safety risks the pair face sleeping rough in a basement below ground.

“People on the street are vulnerable. They’re vulnerable to the weather, they’re vulnerable to attack, they’re exposed to a lot of health risks from vermin. They’re very exposed,” she told the Leader.

The pair have padlocked the iron gates at the top of the steps leading down to the basement in a bid to protect their belongings, and prevent their being evicted.

The businessman who occupies the building at street level – which we are not identifying – said he sympathised with their plight.

“Anybody who is without a home, It’s a dreadful position to be in. We have no problem with them being there. We don’t have a problem with people seeking shelter, or a place to live, who are homeless. But we do know their are others who are unhappy with it,” he said.

It’s understood the couple came last week, and have put up with cold and wet weather since they set up camp espcially on this Sunday. Dr Burns says many people still present to Novas every night looking for bedding because they cannot, or do not want to access accommodation in the city.

“There is a small core of people from time to time who are sleeping rough. They are hidden, but It’s happening. It’s absolutely unacceptable, and service providers like us work hard to eliminate any rough sleeping in our city,” she said. Local councillor Frankie Daly accused Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and government of showing a “lack of empathy, insight and compassion” over the crisis. Figures last year showed Limerick has the highest homeless rate outside Dublin.