Wednesday 17 January 2018

'It's miserable...we feel trapped,' say couple living rough on M50

Sinead Cuthbert and Gavin Quinn who are living in a tent under a bridge spanning the M50 Picture: Damien Eagers
Sinead Cuthbert and Gavin Quinn who are living in a tent under a bridge spanning the M50 Picture: Damien Eagers
The M50 bridge where Sinead Cuthbert, and Gavin Quinn are living in a tent . Picture credit; Damien Eagers 31/8/2016

This camp under an M50 slipway in Finglas is home to a Dublin couple facing into their fourth winter of homelessness.

Sinead Cuthbert (48) and Gavin Quinn (40) have been together for 25 years.

At night they huddle together in a tiny tent hoping the pedestrian bridge above them will keep most of the showers off - but there is little shelter from the wind that blows in from all sides.

"The nights are getting longer. We can feel the winter coming in. There's times you'd just wish you were dead," Sinead told the Herald.

The couple said they used to have a good future and had done some travelling around Europe in younger days.

"I did a course in electronics in Kevin Street, and worked in IBM, 3Com and Sigma Wireless. I had a car and a place to live. Life was good," Gavin said.


"Now I have to walk past the place where I bought the car when I'm going down to the garage to use the toilet. I never thought I'd end up like this.

"We have used some of the hostels in the city, but there are problems with crime and drugs and you can't always get a place. And often they won't let us stay together and split us up.

"It's cold and wet and miserable here, but we feel safer. We don't get bothered here," he added.

Sinead is originally from Coolock, and Gavin from Ashbourne. Sinead said she has been on the housing list for four years, and in that time they have been homeless.

"We used to sleep in sheds over the other side of the road," said Gavin, pointing to the opposite side of the large twisting Junction 5 of the M50.

"But we came back one night and they were burned down, so now we are over here at the footbridge. We've been here around six months now.

"It's a crazy situation and it's only getting worse. In the hostels now you have 40 people all grunting and groaning trying to sleep. Something has to be done," Gavin said.

Since becoming homeless drugs have also become a problem for both of them.

"Merchants Quay (drug treatment centre) are great. We're getting help from them. You get depressed and feel trapped. I'd love to get a job again and work and get a place, but I can't get work without an address, and I can't get an address without work. It just gets harder and harder.

"It's no life for anyone. Sometimes you think you'd be better off dead," said Gavin.

The couple are just one example of the thousands of people caught up in the spiralling problem of homelessness in the capital.

Despite Government pledges and millions of euro being spent fire-fighting the issue since the death of Jonathan Corry just yards from Leinster House in December 2014, the problem is worsening.

At the latest rough sleeper count on April 24 last, 102 people were found to be sleeping rough on the city streets.

Of those, most were men (84), and people sleeping on the street were more likely to be aged between 31 and 40 years of age.


Anthony Flynn of the Inner City Helping Homeless charity (ICHH), which feeds and clothes those sleeping rough every night, said it is now sending volunteers out as far as Killiney to help the growing numbers sleeping on the streets.

"We are supporting 140 to 150 people a night sleeping rough. People are coming from many different counties because they think they will get a bed in Dublin, and that's adding pressure to the system in the capital," said Mr Flynn.

"Then you get a situation where a 19-year-old who becomes homeless in Carlow ends up on the streets in Dublin because the system can't cope. Before long he's exposed to drugs and everything that goes with that."

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