HOME­LESS MEN CAMP IN CIVIC PLAZA TO HIGH­LIGHT THEIR PLIGHT

Bray People - - FRONT PAGE - BY MARY FOG­A­RTY

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.

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