Homeless men stage a five-day sit-in at offices of Bray district
A FIVE-DAY sit-in at the offices of Bray Municipal District came to an end on Monday afternoon with short-term temporary accommodation provided for the protesters.
Homeless men Jay Bissett and Tommy Donnelly occupied the offices from Thursday afternoon in a desperate bid to be provided with housing. The two men were former residents of the Brighton Terrace shelter on Parnell Road which was shut down in March due to health and safety and other concerns.
One of the men went on to a shared accommodation facility however was evicted due to a dispute over having a guest there.
Another did not engage with council officials prior to the closure of Brighton Terrace.
The men refused to leave the building until they were given answers by the authority. Wicklow County Council said that contrary to some reports, the two individuals were not locked into the council offices and were free to leave at any stages.
Drinking water and toilet facilities were available to them. An offer of emergency accommodation for Sunday, May 8, was made to them and meeting with the homeless services arranged for Monday, however those were initially refused.
‘A plan is in place which will ensure the guys have immediate accommodation,’ said Deputy John Brady, who escorted the men to County Buildings in Wicklow on Monday.
Mr Bissett and Mr Donnelly attended meetings with council officials on Monday afternoon with the view to putting long term plans in place. ‘ The two guys are very happy with the outcome as they won’t be back on the streets,’ said Deputy Brady, adding that housing staff in Wicklow are working under difficult conditions due to the crisis in hous-ing. he men told supporters and press gathered outside the offices of Bray Municipal District that the situation had been ‘resolved’. Cllr John Ryan said that housing is the number one issue for Wicklow County Council. ‘As a council we are doing everything we can, including building houses, working with housing associations, buying properties. We have a huge housing list.’
He said that Brighton Terrace had to be closed as the residents in the area were finding it impossible. ‘ The experts in the area said to us that way of dealing with accommodation doesn’t work,’ he said. The council is moving towards a model of smaller, properly run units.
‘Virtually everyone living at Brighton Terrace engaged with the council and was housed. If people engage we can resolve the issues and have been doing so all over the county. The council will find accommodation and there is no need to be sleeping rough on the street. The housing staff have been under such pressure and have shown empathy to everyone they have dealt with.
‘Speaking broadly, they (people in sheltered accommodation) have to keep the rules. They are in residential areas. We have to ensure that the people living there are supportive.
‘If they won’t keep to the rules, effectively they are making themselves homeless.’
ABOVE: Jay Bissett and Tommy Donnelly are interviewed by RTÉ. RIGHT: Signs on the door during the protest.