herald

Saturday 19 August 2017

Family hub for homeless over a Dublin pub is 'inappropriate'

O'Sheas Merchant pub on Merchants Quay
O'Sheas Merchant pub on Merchants Quay

The decision to turn accommodation above a popular GAA pub into a shelter for homeless families has been described as inappropriate.

The city council will turn the current emergency accommodation at O'Shea's Merchant pub on busy Merchants Quay into a family hub.

The move is part of drastic plans by Housing Minister Simon Coveney to ensure no families will be living in hotels or B&B accommodation by the start of next month.

The emergency accommodation above the pub will be turned into one of 15 family hubs across the city planned by the council's Homeless Executive.

None of the hubs will be run by the Homeless Executive. All will be taken over by housing services.

No details have yet been released about the opening date of the hub at O'Shea's Merchant or the number of families who will stay there.

However, it is understood that the families currently using the emergency accommodation are expected to remain when the property is transformed.

O'Shea's Merchant is a popular Dublin pub, especially among Kerry supporters.

Those living in the hubs will be allowed visitors but will not be permitted to have anyone stay overnight.

Clubs

Meals will be provided on-site and each family will have their own en-suite washing facilities.

Homework clubs for children will be included.

Last month, city councillors backed a motion calling for a change in the way family hubs are chosen. Previously, councillors had been left in the dark about hubs until plans were finalised.

Cllr Mannix Flynn - who tabled this emergency motion - has hit out at a lack of information for families and councillors and said the hub above O'Shea's Merchant was in a "highly inappropriate" location.

"[The council] is not telling us what buildings it is looking at or where the money is going," he said.

"It's highly inappropriate - a really busy corner of a main street. It's also a stones throw away from Merchants Quay Ireland [Homeless and Drug Service] which is an issue of constant complaint from the public over anti-social issues."

News of the latest hub comes just two weeks after it was revealed that a hub would be located in a Bargaintown furniture store site on the Malahide Industrial Estate in Coolock.

Two more will be located in Lynam's Hotel on O'Connell Street and Mater Dei on Cloniffe Road. Others will be located in Ballyfermot and Dundrum.

Ridiculous

Meanwhile, the purchase by the Housing Association of two properties in Clontarf for €2m has been slammed by a leading homeless campaigner.

"The price they bought the properties for is absolutely ridiculous," said Anthony Flynn, of Inner City Helping Homeless.

"The money could have been reinvested into purchasing apartments that could have housed a lot more families.

"There is no long-term prospect in it. A lot of these families are going to be left in these units for a long time even though they're told they're not going to be."

The two redbrick homes in St Lawrence Road, which formerly operated as a B&B, will house 13 homeless families, the first of whom will move in next month.

Mr Flynn is not the only person to object to the move. It has angered local residents, many of whom complained they were not consulted about the project. They suggested the property was unsuitable and that individual apartments should have been bought instead.

All, however, said they were not opposed to the idea of rehousing homeless families.

The Clontarf Residents' Association said six apartments were on sale in the area for €1.52m.

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive, which is part of the city council, said it was committed to developing community relations with local residents.

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