New coun­cil­lor of­fers to bring col­leagues on tour of Wex­ford to high­light home­less cri­sis

Wexford People - - NEWS - By MARIA PEP­PER

NEWLY co-opted coun­cil­lor Tony Walsh has of­fered to bring coun­cil­lors who don’t be­lieve there are peo­ple sleep­ing rough in Wex­ford on a tour of the town and in­tro­duce them to at least 10 peo­ple who are in that predica­ment.

Cllr. Tony Walsh of Peo­ple Be­fore Profit was re­spond­ing to a claim by Cllr. Ger Carthy (In­de­pen­dent) that the num­ber of rough sleep­ers in the area is not as high as it is made out to be.

At last week’s Wex­ford Mu­nic­i­pal District meet­ing, Cllr. Carthy said he has been a para­medic for 16 years and he has been in ev­ery street and laneway at all hours of the day and night and he has only ever seen one per­son sleep­ing rough.

‘The idea that the streets are lit­tered with home­less peo­ple is wrong. I’m out 24 hours and I have only ever wit­nessed one per­son sleep­ing in rough con­di­tions in 16 years and that was in the bushes in Ross­lare’.

Cllr. David Hynes (In­de­pen­dent) said he would have to dis­agree with that. ‘Where are they’, asked Cllr. Carthy. Cllr. Hynes said his sis­ter-in-law Kitty Hynes was in the St. Vin­cent de Paul So­ci­ety for many years and two years ago when Ozanam House was full, they had to hand out sleep­ing bags.

Cllr. Walsh said he would be will­ing to bring any­one on a tour of four or five places in Wex­ford where he can show them at least 10 peo­ple who are home­less.

Cllr. Lisa McDon­ald of Fianna Fail said there is def­i­nitely more than one per­son sleep­ing rough in Wex­ford. ‘We don’t have ad­e­quate emer­gency hous­ing to cater for home­less peo­ple. Let’s not start ‘Trump-ising’ in the Coun­cil. If we have a prob­lem, let’s say it and we do have a prob­lem’, she added.

Mr. O’Gor­man said rough sleep­ers were among 335 peo­ple who pre­sented as home­less in 2016 in­clud­ing 88 home­less peo­ple in B&B’s.

Ear­lier, Cllr. Walsh had ob­jected to the use of the term ‘rough sleep­ers’ in a hous­ing re­port pre­sented by Mr. O’ Gor­man in re­la­tion to the mea­sures taken by Coun­cil area hous­ing teams, the gar­dai and the HSE to en­sure that emer­gency ac­com­mo­da­tion was pro­vided for them dur­ing Storm Ophe­lia. A to­tal of 16 peo­ple were con­tacted on the morn­ing of Oc­to­ber 16 and ac­com­mo­da­tion pro­vided where re­quired, ac­cord­ing to ther re­port.

‘Rough sleeper is a judge­men­tal term that should not be part of our vo­cab­u­lary. We should re­ally re­fer to them as home­less peo­ple’, said Cllr. Walsh.

‘The North Wex­ford Hous­ing Ac­tion Group paid for ac­com­mo­da­tion for peo­ple in Gorey that night. It’s ap­palling that even 13 peo­ple were home­less on that night. It’s a sad re­flec­tion on us as pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Twenty-four tents and sleep­ing bags have been handed out by Wex­ford Hous­ing Ac­tion since last Au­gust’, he added.

Di­rec­tor of Ser­vices Tony Larkin said the hous­ing man­ager meant no dis­re­spect is us­ing the term which was coined by the De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment to dif­fer­en­ti­ate rough sleep­ers from peo­ple who are home­less but liv­ing un­der a roof and to iden­tify them as a sep­a­rate cat­e­gory re­quir­ing par­tic­u­lar sup­port ser­vices. ‘Our level of ser­vice pro­vided to home­less peo­ple is ex­tra­or­di­nary’, he said.

Cllr. Ge­orge Lawlor said: ‘I don’t think it’s a deroga­tory term. It’s a term used by the De­part­ment to de­scribe the con­di­tions they are sleep­ing in. There are quite a lot of peo­ple sleep­ing rough in Wex­ford.’

‘Some of them would have dif­fi­culty en­gag­ing with author­ity but it’s our job to try and en­gaged with them’, he added.

Dur­ing the dis­cus­sion, Cllr. Hynes con­demned the re­cent com­ments of Eileen Glee­son, the head of Dublin Re­gion Home­less Ex­ec­u­tive who said for a per­son to be­come home­less ‘it takes years of bad be­hav­iour’ and home­less­ness would not be solved by unau­tho­rised groups hand­ing out food.

‘We should nail this lie that says don’t feed the hom­less be­cause you’ll only en­cour­age them’, said Cllr. Hynes.

Cllr. Lawlor de­scribed the lan­guage used by Ms. Glee­son as ‘ap­palling’.

‘As a pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tive I cringed lis­ten­ing to her’, he said.

Cllr Tony Walsh.

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