Council chief exec says ‘there’s a whole industry’ sustaining homeless people sleeping in tents
17th August 2021
DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL’S Chief Executive Owen Keegan has suggested that “well-intended” homeless volunteers are sustaining people sleeping in tents on the streets of the capital. Owen Keegan
Speaking to Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder today, Keegan was commenting on the perception that Dublin is unsafe after Irish Olympian Jack Woolley was assaulted in Dublin city centre on Friday night.
Keegan told the programme that anti-social behaviour is a concern and said that the proliferation of tents in Dublin is adding to this.
“There are other aspects, like the proliferation of tents – and I’ll get into trouble for saying this – but we don’t think people should be allowed sleep in tents when there’s an abundance of supervised accommodation in hostels.
“We’ve had up to 100/150 beds available every night for homeless people, and we would have thought that it’s not unreasonable that in those situations, if you’re homeless, you’d go into a professionally managed hostel.”
Keegan said there is “massive pressure” to allow people to camp on the street.
“And that adds to that perception of an edginess about the city”.
Asked about homeless people who may not feel safe staying in hostels he said: “I think being out on the street in a tent is objectively is much less safe than being in a professionally managed hostel.
“There is an issue that if you’re in a hostel, which is a congregated setting, there has to be some limits on your behaviour and some people find that very challenging.
“I still think you’re better off in there, where you can access services in a much safer environment than being out on the street.”
Keegan said that the Council’s policy of removing tents is “not very popular, but we do it because we don’t believe it’s appropriate.
“But there’s a whole industry out there about sustaining what we believe is a very unsafe and inferior form of accommodation for homeless people.
“There’s a whole lot of well-intended groups providing service and delivering services on the street.
“Our view is that people are better off accessing services in a controlled environment, where there is a full range of professional service,” he said.
Speaking generally, Keegan said anti-social behaviour in Dublin city is a very legitimate concern.
“I think the Gardaí will probably say that, objectively, Dublin city is very safe in comparison with other city centres.
“It’s not just the frequency of media reports of lone individuals being attacked, but we’ve had evidence of groups of young people, congregating, drinking and causing a whole lot of low-level anti-social behaviour.
“So I think all that adds up and creates a perception that Dublin isn’t a family friendly place or friendly for women.
“And I think that’s something we have to be very concerned about.”
He adds: “It’s the perception that matters, and if people feel that it’s unsafe that’s enough”.
Keegan’s comments come after a Council-commissioned report last year found that additional on-street food services for homeless people “are not required” and has recommended that these services should be regulated.
The review, drawn up by UCD’s School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, examined five statutory-funded day services for Dublin’s homeless population.
The review examined day services for homeless people pre-Covid and interviewed representatives from DRHE-funded services. Homeless people were not interviewed for the review nor were charitably-funded day services.
According to the review, recent years have seen a “dramatic expansion” in on-street, voluntary food services which are unconnected to DRHE-funded day services like Capuchin Day Centre, Merchants Quay Ireland, Focus and Crosscare.
Service providers interviewed for the review said that an “excess provision” of food in Dublin is a result of an increase in soup runs and volunteers providing sandwiches.
They said that providing food at their day service was a “vital hook” to engage homeless people so that they are able to access additional, follow-on services, the review notes.
Fred in despair. HSE divested itself to the private sector and in ways housing has done the same. All we need to do is to take a look at what happened in the UK with COVID-19 and how quickly 49 people became millionaires overnight as the back channel from Government enlightened them on how through cronyism to make big bucks on the backs of the vulnerable. It never stops; this cronyism and corruption surrounds us. The weak are the targets while the strong are the greedy takers. Time to review services and remove cronies who are often in the guise of charities. Where is the Irish Charities Regulator. Time to put on your boxing gloves and interact with Government Services. Google “Boots in my pillow”. Then ask why, and that is if it is so, these “professionally managed” hostels, according to Owen Keegan, DCC, are not being availed of. There has to be a reason or reasons and it looks like the report mentioned above, failed to deal with what the homeless perceive the hostels to be and hence they choose not to avail of their services. Location Location Location is so often ignored. There is some reason why people when in disarray gravitate towards the centre of cities. It has to be accepted so therefore this must be taken into account.