herald

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Custom House now a cardboard refuge for city's homeless

One of Dublin's most important tourist attractions has become a "cardboard refuge" for the homeless.

The Custom House - headquarters of the Department of the Environment which is responsible for housing - has become an encampment for people sleeping rough.

Litter lies strewn along the stone corridors of the iconic building. Cardboard has been wedged on to iron railings to act as a windbreak.

Sleeping bags, blankets and newspapers are used as bedding at the building which has adorned the north quays of the Liffey since the 1790s.

The Environment Department's own website says: "The Custom House is regarded as one of the jewels in the city's architectural crown. A masterpiece of neo-classicism."

Homeless people living under the front arches of the building told the Herald they would love to find proper accommodation.

Two young men said they and their girlfriends had been sleeping there for a couple of months".

They have to climb over iron railings each night to get into the corridor.

Sean (28) said he has "a drink problem" and moved from Belfast in the hope of finding work.

"I've had a lot of chances and coming to Dublin was my last hope. I'd love to get a roof over my head where I could come and go when I please," he said.

"Hostels won't allow me in after 9pm and they make you leave before 10am. I've slept in doorways all over the city.

RATS

"Myself and my girlfriend jump over the railings to sleep here. It feels safer, though I've had my shoes stolen at night and there's rats and mice running around."

A 26-year-old man said he was sleeping there with his pregnant girlfriend.

They look forward each night to charity workers supplying them with hot soup and bread.

He said he was on methadone and did not want to give his name as he claimed to be under threat from a crime gang in Limerick.

"I spent three-and-a-half years in the Midlands Prison and they told me that I'd have a roof over my head when I got out, but I've no place to live," he said.

The Environment Department is aware of the homeless issue on its doorstep.

"The Department are aware of the ongoing problems at the quay side of the Custom House and are seeking a solution," a spokesman said.

hnews@herald.ie

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