Belfast Telegraph

Homeless man death 'shows failure'

The death of a homeless man across the street from the Dail is a damning reflection of the state's failure to protect the worst off, it has been claimed.

A candle lit vigil will be held outside Leinster House tomorrow evening in memory of the 43-year-old who died in a doorway on Molesworth Street.

Several homeless men sleep rough around the area and some are known to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and other TDs as they pass on their way to the parliament.

Gardai are not treating the death as suspicious and are awaiting port-mortem examination results to determine if the cold weather or drug use was a factor.

Met Eireann said temperatures in Dublin plunged to as low as 1.4C (35F) last night.

Drug paraphernalia was discovered close to the man's body, which was found by a passer-by on his way to work.

Homelessness charities who work with those sleeping rough in the capital confirmed that they had been in contact with the man before his death.

Believed to be originally from Co Carlow, his last known address was a hostel in Dublin.

Mike Allen, of homelessness charity Focus Ireland, said the death made clear the severity of the homelessness crisis.

"The men who sleep rough around there would be known to a number of the TDs," he said.

"There have been a number of questions to Enda Kenny in the Dail about homelessness, and he refers to his conversations with the men who sleep in that area."

There have been warnings in recent weeks about people dying on the streets as the winter sets in.

Barry Cowen, Fianna Fail's environment spokesman, said the death in the shadow of the national parliament is a sharp reminder of the scale of the homelessness problem.

"As TDs, senators and staff walked into work this morning, they were faced with a very real example of just how bad the problem has become in Dublin and in other cities across Ireland," he said.

Dessie Ellis, Sinn Fein's housing spokesman, said: "That this man took his last breath just outside the parliament that rubber-stamped the policies that failed him is highly symbolic."

Official figures released just over a week ago show the number of people sleeping rough in Dublin has soared by a fifth over the past year.

At least 168 homeless people will be sleeping out over the coming weeks and months, it is suggested.

Last week, leading homelessness campaigner Sr Stanislaus Kennedy said the Government could stop families becoming homeless at the stroke of a pen to allow welfare payments to keep pace with rocketing rents.

Mr Allen said there are usually a number of issues facing rough sleepers, including addiction problems, mental health issues and other circumstances.

These people have been failed over a long period of time, he said.

Mr Allen said the death outside Leinster House should bring home to TDs and senators the severity of the crisis.

"It is one thing to hear abstractly about a homeless man dying but suddenly if you're are able to put a face, maybe a name and maybe you have had a conversation with the man, the humanity of it becomes much clearer," he said.

The campaigner called for a speeding-up of a promise for emergency beds, but added the real answer is more homes.

The man was pronounced dead at around 9am and his body taken to the City Morgue for a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death.

The scene was sealed off as rush-hour commuters passed on their way to work.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett called on the Government to hold an emergency debate on homelessness.

The tragic death symbolised the failure of the coalition to deal with the crisis, he added.

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