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'I was on my day off' - charity chief defends drinking in group of 10

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Anthony Flynn (sixth from right) drinking with pals

Anthony Flynn (sixth from right) drinking with pals

Anthony Flynn (sixth from right) drinking with pals

A homelessness charity boss has defended breaching social-distancing rules after photos emerged of him drinking with 10 other people over the bank holiday weekend.

Inner City Helping Homeless chief executive Anthony Flynn, who is also a Dublin city councillor, was pictured sitting closely beside several other people at a community event in the city centre.

Mr Flynn said he would put his "hands up" if he was breaching social-distancing rules, but insisted the majority of those he was drinking with were from his "immediate family unit".

Critical

However, when asked how many of the 10 other people he was drinking with live in his household, he said four.

Three others in the photo work with him.

Under phase one of the Government's plan for reopening the country, four people who do not live together can meet outdoors while keeping at least two metres apart.

Mr Flynn has been critical of the Government over the lack of social distancing in homelessness services.

He said he attended the get-together, which was organised by a residents association, in his capacity as a councillor.

"If there was a photograph taken where I wasn't social- distancing, I have no problem putting my hands up," he added.

"If someone wants to take a swipe because I wasn't soc- ially-distancing, that's fine.

"I have been working on the frontline for 11 weeks and I was on a day off."

In reference to the Black Lives Matter protest in Dublin on Monday, Mr Flynn said "much bigger events" took place in the city which had "many people att- ending".

"There were thousands of people walking down O'Connell Street. Did every one of them get a phone call?" he asked.

Mr Flynn said around 150 people attended the charity event organised by a Portland Place and District residents group.

The group's Facebook page said it had raised €650 for Temple Street Children's Hospital.

"The commun- ity has been on lockdown for a number of weeks, and the event that was organised by the residents association encouraged physical-distancing throughout the day," Mr Flynn said.

He founded Inner City Helping Homeless in 2013 in response to the increasing number of people sleeping rough on the streets of the capital.

The charity's website says it now has 200 volunteers.

Mr Flynn has been a vocal critic of the Government's response to the housing crisis and decided to run for the Dublin City Council in last year's local elections.

He was elected to the Inner City North electoral area on the 15th count after receiving just over 600 first-preference votes.

Critical

Since the start of the pandemic, he has raised concerns about the impact of the virus on people living in homeless services across Ireland.

"We have some hostels with 70 to 80 beds and little or no social-distancing, and this in turn puts vulnerable people, many with compromised imm-une systems, at serious risk," he said in March.