Residents furious at plans to double size of women's shelter
ANGRY residents in a Dublin suburb have committed to staging several protests a week over a recommendation to increase the number of residents in a homeless shelter in their area.
The West Finglas Residents and Tenants Association (WFRTA) are "gobsmacked" that Dublin City Council has backtracked on a decision to scale back a women's shelter in the area.
The Abigail centre was opened in December 2014 on the Kildonan Road in the Mellowes area and residents complained of a spike in anti-social behaviour and open drug use.
Now a new report has recommended that the number of service users be scaled back up toward 55 from September.
In April, following consultation with residents, the number of women staying there was cut by almost half to 30.
"We are gobsmacked," Tommy Devlin of WFRTA told the Herald.
"We thought that dialogue was the way to go but it's time for action now.
"Without being too impolite, it feels as though we have been given the two fingers.
"The major issue is the type of people that somewhere like this attracts into a residential area," he added.
Now outraged residents have vowed to begin a campaign of "sporadic action" outside the centre and at city council buildings in a bid to secure the closure of the centre.
"We are willing to discuss other uses for the site. It has 15 acres of land that could potentially be used to house homeless families or the elderly," Mr Devlin said.
"We know there is a homeless crisis and we are putting suggestions on the table."
Mr Devlin said that the protest action taken by residents would escalate until something was done about the centre.
Locals will only accept the full closure of the centre, he added.
Run by Novas Initiatives and Depaul, Abigail was established to provide temporary accommodation to vulnerable women, according to the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE), which is responsible for the centre.
A report prepared by Mr Eddie Matthews, a health and social care specialist, was presented to the council this month.
"It is most regrettable that a small number of serious anti-social issues around attempted prostitution and intravenous injecting were attributable to one or two women in the Novas service," the report read.
The report also noted that the amalgamation of the two services in a short space of time before Christmas was "a challenge".
The southside location of the HSE office involved with the centre was also highlighted and it was recommended that a staff member from the HSE's northside office be appointed.
Mr Matthews also suggested that residents be elected to an advisory committee, appointed to advise on the Local Economic and Community Plan, to suggest alternative use for the land, which must also include accommodation for homeless women.
An alternative entrance and daily activities for the women in the centre were also recommended in the report.
Any return to full capacity at the centre will need to clarify and address developing a masterplan for the campus and the addition of security cameras around the site a spokesperson for the DRHE, on behalf of the centre, said.
"There are no plans by the state agencies in relation to housing for the site.
"Dublin City Council will not be entering into any plan or arrangement other than the [consultation] process," she added.
Measures already taken at the centre include a shuttle bus service to town for service users.