herald

Wednesday 22 November 2017

'Many of young I deal with are depressed', warns Fr McVerry

Campaigner Fr Peter McVerry
Campaigner Fr Peter McVerry

Homeless campaigners are calling for more assistance for people feeling trapped by homelessness, following the suicide of a young mother in emergency accommodation - and the deaths of two other homeless people this week.

Campaigner Fr Peter McVerry said that, more than ever before, homelessness is accompanied by hopelessness.

"This is because people who are homeless don't know when they are ever going to get out of homelessness," he said.

"Some people have been in hotels for 18 months, maybe longer. Homeless people are going around the hostel circuit year after year. The problem is so entrenched that people despair at ever getting out of it.

"That is very demoralising. Many of the young people I deal with are seriously depressed.

"I deal mainly with single people, but most of them have contemplated suicide from time to time," he added.

He said the most urgent problem was preventing people from becoming homeless. "We've got to legislate to make it illegal to evict people into homelessness, either by the banks or landlords, except for very specific circumstances such as anti-social behaviour.

"We have got to stop the flow into homelessness. We are trying to empty the bathwater with the taps full on.

"Every possible means, including compulsory purchase orders, should be considered to bring as many of those back into use quickly," he added.

David Nugent, of the Inner City Helping Homeless, said every effort should be made to prevent another tragedy.

"A root and branch review of everyone who is in a homeless situation should be done," he said. "If people are suffering from any sort of troubles or needs, these should be addressed by agencies."

He said no one wanted to live in an Ireland without a safety net, but that is what is happening.

Healthy

"It's not healthy for families to be confined in hotel rooms. That must affect the very soul of persons in those situations," he said.

Thursday and Friday saw three homeless people, including Danielle Carroll (27), die in the space of just 48 hours.

On Thursday, Jack Watson, in his 50s, was found unconscious on Suffolk Street in the city centre, before being pronounced dead in hospital.

In the most recent incident, Jennifer 'Jenny' Dennehy, in her 30s, was found dead yesterday in a tent at Gilabbey Rock, near Cork city centre.

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