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Homeless woman (81) 'could have died' on street after hospital discharge

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Councillor Christy Burke. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Councillor Christy Burke. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Councillor Christy Burke. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

A homeless 81-year-old woman who was wandering the streets of Dublin on Thursday night would have died if she had not been found, a city councillor has claimed.

The woman was found in a freezing and very distressed state outside the GPO on O'Connell Street shortly after 9pm by a volunteer who runs a soup kitchen.

The Dublin woman, who is believed to be suffering with mental health issues, was found by charity worker Irene Cody Murphy, who immediately alerted the Simon Community.

Attempts to contact the emergency services had failed, so Ms Cody Murphy decided to contact Independent councillor Christy Burke.

The inner-city councillor revealed he had just returned home after helping on a soup run when he received her call.

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing from Irene when she telephoned me. In the more than 20 years I've been volunteering with homeless charities, never have I come across a case like this," he said.

"If Irene hadn't found her, I've no doubt this woman would have been found dead as a result of hypothermia. Imagine an elderly woman after just being discharged from an acute hospital roaming our capital streets?

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"I've dealt with 12 and 13-year-olds who are homeless but never a woman of this age. We managed to confirm what the woman was saying was true and she had indeed been discharged from an acute hospital.

"We were about to put her into a hotel thanks to an anonymous donation of €100 on Thursday night. But I managed to get Fran Devereux from Dublin City Council (DCC) and he got to work straight away in trying to help.

"She kept saying she didn't want to go to a particular hostel, which led us to believe she has been suffering for some time and has been out on our streets way before being found like this."

Mr Burke said the woman has been booked into a hotel for the weekend and is being prioritised for a home by DCC's Housing First Regional Service.

"This is a despicable situation that the Government are allowing to happen and are being distracted by issues that have little relevance to this crisis," he added.

"Our politicians need to wake up to what is happening on our streets instead of thinking of themselves and wanting to get re-elected now that a general election is imminent".

The number of homeless in Ireland has increased to more than 10,500 for the first time.

The Department of Housing recently released homelessness figures for last October, showing there were 10,514 individuals homeless, with 4,000 of these being children.

That is an increase of 117 on September's numbers, which Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said "was expected following the introduction of new emergency beds in the Dublin region recently".

It is an increase of 8.1pc since October 2018 when the numbers stood at 9,724, according to the Simon Communities.