HOMELESS MEN CAMP IN CIVIC PLAZA TO HIGHLIGHT THEIR PLIGHT
Bray men Thomas Donnelly and Jay Bissett are camping outside Bray Municipal District offices as they remain homeless and in need of emergency accommodation after a weekend of sleeping in a tent on the beach.
‘We don’t want to be doing this,’ they said. ‘But we have no choice.’
Thomas Donnelly is a native of Bray and Jay Bissett is Sallynoggin man who has lived in Bray for over eight years.
Thomas found himself homeless when his apartment was sold by the owners, while Jay’s situation follows the breakdown of a relationship.
They occupied the Bray Municipal District buildings last week for a period of four nights until a third party provided accommodation for them at the Wilton Hotel. After four nights, that accommodation came to an end.
‘We were informed that it couldn’t be funded anymore,’ said Tommy. ‘We were asked to go to Wicklow County Council to present as homeless and also to ask about rent allowance information and how much we would be allowed. We went to the offices but Wicklow County Council and Bray Municipal District have been closed to the two of us since then. They won’t let us in or answer our phone calls.
‘We have engaged. We’ve gone to viewings of flats and apartments like they asked us to do. It’s all one-sided.’
The men said that they were refused access to both county buildings and the Bray offices with security guards on the doors.
‘We want to know what price bracket we can go for, we’ve loads of questions for them,’ said Jay.
In the meantime, as a first step they want emergency accommodation and support to move forward. ‘We need somewhere to freshen up and go looking presentable to interviews and make a good first impression, you want to look clean and tidy and not tired looking,’ said Jay.
‘We’re not looking for the keys to a house,’ said Tommy.
While they would not object in principle to going outside the area, the cost of public transport from Wicklow or Arklow, for example, would be prohibitive in terms of visiting family and looking for rental properties.
Both men were residents of the now-closed Brighton Terrace hostel in Bray.
Tommy said that he was subsequently in a smaller facility run by the Simon Community but was told to leave. ‘I had my girlfriend there, not overnight,’ he said. ‘I was told to think of it as my home, not a hostel, and that my girlfriend, children and grandchild could visit. I was paying €47 a week.’
Jay said that he was sleeping on couches following the closure of Brighton Terrace. He said that he attempted to contact the homeless officer without success after the hostel closed.
They said that they have no intention of occupying offices again.
‘We didn’t intend the first time to occupy,’ said Jay. ‘ The first time we just came in to try to get some help.
‘ The only way we feel we can get through to them and let them know we are sleeping on the streets is by being visually here so they can see us on the streets.’
‘We intend to stay here until we get emergency accommodation,’ said Tommy, while Jay said that they need a ‘stepping stone’ towards private rented accommodation.
‘Wicklow County Council and Simon Support workers are continuing to offer advice and support to the two men involved to source private rented accommodation,’ said the council in a statement.
Tents pitched in the Civic Plaza in Bray yesterday (Tuesday) and (inset) Tommy Kavanagh.