Anger at decision to turn Liberties centre into homeless hostel
Residents living in the Liberties area of Dublin have protested against plans to turn a local community centre into a hostel for the homeless.
Around 50 residents of the Dublin 8 area took to the streets in protest on Thursday night.
They said they are not only losing one of the few community amenities in the area, but that they already have a disproportionate number of hostels for the homeless and drug and alcohol services compared with other areas in Dublin.
Dublin City Council (DCC) plans to convert the former St Nicholas of Myra community centre at Carman's Hall - which has been closed due to a lack of funding - into a 65-bed hostel for rough sleepers in a bid to address the growing homeless crisis in the capital.
But Fianna Fail Senator Catherine Ardagh (34), who represented the area as a city councillor, said it already has 12 homeless shelters as well as centres for people with drug and alcohol addictions.
"It seems pretty unfair. The area is shouldering the whole homeless crisis. People open their front doors and there are syringes on the ground," she said.
She denied the protest is an example of "nimbyism" (not in my back yard) but rather one of spreading the burden fairly across the city. "Our community can only take so much," she said.
Figures released by DCC's Homeless Executive reveal the area provides accommodation to 666 homeless people, just 200 fewer than the heart of the inner city in Dublin 1, while Dublin 4 has 78 homeless beds and Dublin 6W has none.
Local resident Joyce Reid (70) said it's not just the proliferation of homeless and substance abuse services that has people angry but also a lack of local amenities or green spaces.
Now one of the few community centres is to disappear when locals claim it should be revitalised for the local residents. "Our objection is we don't have a place to go as a community," she added.
"Our hearts are going out to the homeless. But there's not a blade of grass for us here while the homeless are defecating on the streets because there's not one public toilet."
The Homeless Executive said in a statement: "This expansion is to occur as part of DCC's winter strategy to prevent fatalities and/or serious harm arising to persons from sleeping rough, particularly in adverse weather conditions."