herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Door spikes to deter homeless
'are disgusting'

THE Government agency with responsibility for public buildings has said it had no knowledge of "anti-homeless" sleeping spikes outside a Department of Social Welfare office.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) said that the building, on Lower Hatch Street in Dublin city, was rented and the grounds were run by a private company.

The spikes, which act as a deterrent to rough sleepers, had been placed on top of steps in front of a fenced-off door.

However, last month they were removed by anti-homelessness campaigners.

Fr Peter McVerry, who runs a trust to tackle homelessness, said that he was very concerned to hear about the appearance of the spikes.

Negative

"I'm absolutely disgusted by them. In general they send a message to homeless people that we don't want you, we don't want to deal with you, we just want you to go away," he told the Herald.

"I would be particularly worried that it sends a very negative message to homeless people."

"Most homeless people are homeless through no fault of their own and instead of these spikes we should be pressuring the Government to actually deal with homelessness," he added.

When the Herald tried to enquire who was responsible for the spikes and if they would be reinstalled, no party was willing to take responsibility.

A spokesperson for the Department of Social Protection said that it was the OPW that dealt with public buildings.

But a spokesperson for the OPW said that the property was privately owned and leased, with property management company HWBC responsible its condition.

HWBC declined to comment and referred queries back to the OPW.

Bryan Kelly, who works in the area, says that he was disgusted when he noticed the spikes.

He said: "The door is unused, and since it's blocked by plants and metal bars, it could hardly be argued that it's a fire exit and so needs to be kept clear of 'obstructions'."

There was anger in the UK earlier this summer, when it emerged that the spikes had been used outside a number of private businesses and in public areas.

London Mayor Boris Johnson even became embroiled in the controversy when he called for the spikes to be removed from an area.

He called them "stupid".

lbyrne@herald.ie

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