herald

Saturday 14 December 2019

Officials jeered by furious residents over 'secretive' plans for homeless hostel

Mannix Flynn was heckled
Mannix Flynn was heckled

Dramatic scenes erupted in Dublin's south inner city as local residents expressed their outrage over the "secret planning" of the State's largest homeless hostel in their area.

More than 100 members of the local community packed into Carmelite Community Centre on Aungier Street on Tuesday to voice their opposition to the Peter McVerry Trust hostel which will provide overnight accommodation for 150 adults at Avalon House.

The residents stressed they are not against the housing of homeless people. Instead, they objected to the decision being made without their knowledge.

Dublin City Council's deputy chief executive, Brendan Kenny, and Peter McVerry Trust deputy chief executive, Brian Friel, were regularly met with jeers as locals argued they were not addressing their concerns.

Members of a Dublin-based housing group were also asked to leave after Councillor Mannix Flynn was heckled when talking about his record helping the homeless.

He had called the emergency meeting after it emerged that the Peter McVerry Trust and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) intend to take over the Victorian building off Aungier Street, which includes cold weather beds for rough sleepers during winter.

Until recently it had been used as a backpackers' hostel.

Dead

A lease on the building has now been signed by the trust, and it is envisioned that the hostel will open in January.

Mr Kenny told the meeting that the DRHE required 300 additional emergency accommodation beds.

"If we don't get accommodation for people or more beds for people, more and more single people will become dead on the street," he said.

Mr Friel said that while the charity appreciated local concerns, problems previously envisaged by communities where it has opened other hostels had not come to pass.

But Cllr Flynn vowed to take a High Court action to prevent the hostel from opening.

"I'm sick and tired of being railroaded," he said.

"Stop trying to blackmail us in relation to those that are unfortunate enough to be on out streets in an awful state."

He later accused DCC and the Peter McVerry Trust of leaving the community in "complete darkness".

"This agreement was done in total secret," he said.

One woman who was at the meeting feared the hostel would only "heighten the area's drug and anti-social problem".

"There's a primary school just around the corner from where this hostel is supposed to go.

"It's being placed in an area that is already inundated with similar facilities. Why can't this hostel go out in D4 instead?"

A spokesperson for the Peter McVerry Trust told the Herald it has made contact with organisations and individuals in the community in addition to DCC and the DRHE. However, it did not specify if this was done before or after the lease was signed.

The DRHE said: "It is the intention that this facility will provide long-term stable placements, there will be no queuing for admission or congregating on the street outside."

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