Belfast Telegraph

Homelessness campaigners look to legislate against 'hostile architecture'

Homeless campaigners are seeking new legislation to stop the "cruel and inhuman" use of spikes and sprinklers to deter rough sleepers.

An Anti-Homeless Devices Bill, launched by Solidarity TDS, is to be debated on Wednesday.

Devices, such as spikes, raised bars and water sprinklers are being installed outside buildings across Dublin and other cities and towns to deter rough sleepers gathering there.

The new bill, if passed, would mean that members of the public could lodge planning objections to the anti-homeless devices, or so-called hostile architecture.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry said the number of devices being installed is increasing every month.

He said they were "cruel and inhuman."

"They have one use and that is to prevent homeless people seeking shelter," added Mr Barry.

It is believed that the Government is set to reject the opposition bill, which would force businesses to remove the devices.

Mr Barry said to vote down the bill would be "callous" and show "disdain" for the homeless.

"(The government) spent last week denying there was a (homelessness) crisis, then they were forced to backtrack.

"Now with the vote against this Bill we have another clear example of their ruthlessness and their homelessness denial," said Mr Barry.

Homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry said that "excluding homeless people, making them feel unwanted and rejected, is an act of violence, often perpetrated by the State".

"When a person becomes homeless, the first casualty is self-esteem.

"To make people feel of little or no value is an assault on their dignity, an assault that does not leave visible scars on their body, which may heal, but invisible scars on their spirit, which may never heal," Fr McVerry said.

He added: "For homeless people, travellers and other groups in our society, Ireland is not a land of opportunity, but a land of exclusion and oppression."

Lorraine O'Connor, from the Muslim Sisters of Eire, said the devices "are a disgrace and a smear on the Irish society".

Richard Boyd Barrett TD said the bill "is a modest effort to prevent the further persecution of homeless people."

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