Wednesday 26 October 2016

Hundreds march on homeless shelter over anti-social behaviour


West Finglas Tenants and Residents Association and supporters protest march to the Abigail Centre from WFTRA Community Centre
West Finglas Tenants and Residents Association and supporters protest march to the Abigail Centre from WFTRA Community Centre

Residents of a city suburb have marched on a controversial homeless shelter to demand its closure.

Some 200 people, including young children, marched from the community hall of West Finglas Tenants and Residents Association (WFTRA) to the gates of the Abigail centre on the Kildonan road.

Run by Novas Initiatives and Depaul, Abigail was established to provide temporary accommodation to vulnerable women, according to the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, which is responsible for the centre.


According to locals, there has been a spike in anti-social behaviour in the area since the centre opened in December.

The group handed in a letter at the gates of the centre.

"The WFTRA Abigail action groups, a sub-committee of WFTRA, nominated by the residents of Finglas, are demanding the cessation of services and the closure of the Abigail centre," the letter read in part.

Those involved in the march carried signs that read 'Finglas West shows Abigail the Red Card. Close Abigail'.

Residents have complained about an incident of open sexual activity in the park and blatant drug-dealing in the neighbourhood since the centre first began operating.

A needle was also found in a park adjacent to the centre, which is used by football clubs.

Chairman of WFTRA, Dessie Duffy, told the Herald that the only solution to these problems is to close the centre.

"Senior citizens in the area are being hassled," he said.

"We are looking out for the health and safety of our children and our senior citizens in the area, so that they can have a nice environment to live in."

John Fox, secretary of the WFTA soccer club, which trains around 220 children aged from four to 18 years, also marched on Saturday.

"Finglas may have its problems but this is the first time in 20 years that a needle has been found in the park and it's a direct result of the centre being opened," he said.

"One is one too many and we can't take that chance. Our fear is that this is going to hamper our development even further," he explained.

The club plans to join forces with another local club, Mellowes BDS, to form Finglas United, next year but they fear that the centre will jeopardise that partnership.

A meeting is due to take place on Thursday between officials from the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and local stakeholders.

"We're not against helping the homeless or rehabilitation for any person, but we want the anti-social behaviour coming out of that centre and around it to stop," Siobhan Callaghan from Kildonan Road said.

"We already have a homeless centre in Finglas and we don't want another one."

A spokesperson for the centre said that they had engaged with residents to iron out any problems since March of this year.

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