herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

Special delivery at GPO as homeless enjoy gala dinner

At the Dublin Lions Annual Dinner for the Homeless at the GPO was Shay West (C O'Riordan)
At the Dublin Lions Annual Dinner for the Homeless at the GPO was Shay West (C O'Riordan)
Defence Forces head chef CQMS Noel Murphy with his team (C O'Riordan)
Volunteers Ciara O'Callaghan and Jacqueline Dixon (C O'Riordan)

Nearly 200 homeless people were treated to a gala dinner in the historic GPO building last night.

The first-of-its-kind sit-down meal was organised by the Dublin Lions Club in conjunction with the Defence Forces, An Post and An Garda Siochana.

The Lions Club were delighted to once again highlight their commitment to helping the homeless as they held their annual dinner in the GPO for the first time.

For more than 60 years, the club has hosted the event for the homeless, the elderly and other vulnerable people living in the city centre.

Prepared

Almost 60 Lions Club volunteers and more than 30 members of the Defence Forces transformed the main lobby within minutes of the building closing at 6pm.

Tables packed with bread, confectionery and soft drinks filled the foyer as a team of chefs from the Defence Forces had prepared meals for 250 people, though only 220 were expected. "Preparation began at 10am this morning", said company quartermaster sergeant Noel Murphy, who was in charge of the food.

Invitations for what is known as Eric's Party were distributed through hostels for the homeless across the city.

Each guest received a ticket for entry to a night of warmth, food and entertainment, which was provided for by both the Monday Club - a choir made up of retired members of An Post - and a band called Three Buddies Band.

Frank O'Donoghue, President of the Dublin Lions Club, told the Herald "planning began for this last March - because of the complexity of doing it here it meant that everything had to be brought in, the food, the tables and chairs - everything".

Major General Kevin Cotter, of the Defence Forces told the Herald the symbolism can't be lost.

"It's 2016 and having the Defence Forces here linking out to the community is tremendous."

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