herald

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Council to consider housing homeless in Mountjoy campus

Mountjoy prison, which could be used to house the homeless
Mountjoy prison, which could be used to house the homeless

Dublin City Council is considering using a section of the Mountjoy prison campus to help deal with the capital's homeless problem.

The Department of Justice has offered the training unit of Dublin's largest prison to the local authority, which is now considering it to house homeless people.

The training unit is separated from the main section of the jail and was closed earlier this year.

At the time of its closure the unit had a capacity of 96 beds.

Crisis

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn said the council was considering using the facility to alleviate the city's current homelessness crisis.

"It's a fine building on the banks of the Royal Canal and a decision is still to be made on whether single individuals will be going in or if it will be used to house families," Mr Flynn told the Herald.

"I'd pre­­­fer it to be used for those in great need, sleeping rough on our streets.

"There are fa­cilities there which can help those with serious problems, and it would be a long-term solution

The Dublin councillor also thanked Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, DCC chief executive Brendan Kenny and the head of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, Eileen Gleeson, for their work in making the training unit available.

"This is a good news story and it is very welcome," Mr Flynn said.

"It isn't a case of the council putting homeless people into a prison.

"It is a separate complex to the main prison. I would also ask the religious congregations to look around their estates for similar buildings.

"I also believe that Collins Barracks could be used to facilitate this emergency."

Children

The latest figures show there are 8,500 people without a home, 3,500 of whom are children, but there are fears the number could increase as the country heads into Christmas week, as the figures were compiled in October.

Dublin City deputy Chief Executive Brendan Kenny said that the Mountjoy training centre "isn't being ruled out", but that the Council's immediate focus is to have 200 permanent beds ready by next week.

"There are 200 additional places being made available next week in Dublin, which puts us in a very strong position and there is no need for any rough sleepers to be on the streets.

"It probably puts us in the best position we've been in for the last seven years."

Mr Kenny added that initial discussions have taken place in relation to the use of the training unit, but that this would be looked at in the New Year and that the accommodation would be temporary for between four and five months.

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