Homeless Irish roofer was making €600 a week but ended up sleeping rough

Cian also reveals that one of his site foremen is forced to sleep in a Portakabin car every night despite being on over €60,000 a year

Cian. Photo: Virgin Media

Cian couldn't find anywhere to rent in Dublin. Photo: Virgin Media

Eugene MastersonSunday World

A young man who was earning €600 a week on building sites claims he was forced to live on the streets because he could not find anywhere to rent and has now left Ireland because he couldn’t survive here.

Despite helping to build swanky apartments, Cian Murtagh became enraged that not only did he realise he knew he could never buy one let alone rent and instead ended up sleeping in doorways.

The 29-year-old Meath man will be seen on Virgin Media’s heart-wrenching new documentary series on the homelessness crisis, Stories From The Street.

Cian also revealed to the Sunday World that one of his site foremen is forced to sleep in a Portakabin car every night despite being on over €60,000 a year as he too could not find anywhere to live in Dublin.

Cian couldn't find anywhere to rent in Dublin. Photo: Virgin Media

“I know the price of some of the apartments I finished, like €800,000 or €900,000 to buy, a small box apartment,” fumed Cian. “We don’t have a Government, we have a couple of families who milk the country.

“They don’t look out for our own at all. Ireland was meant to be where I would live and experience. It’s not a place to rear a young family as kids these days won’t be able to afford anywhere when they grow up.”

Cian grew up in Dunboyne and was in care homes before going to Carlow IT, where he did Humanities for two years before dropping out of college.

He ended up living on the streets for nearly the past three years.

“I was initially rough sleeping in Galway,” he explained. “I was homeless about a year or so before I went to Dublin.

“I wanted to avoid Dublin at all costs because I knew it was dangerous. I travelled literally around the entire island before I got to Dublin.

“I ran out of cash, I ran out of everything. I couldn’t get a job anywhere, Covid, lockdowns, so there was nothing to do.

“So, I wandered down to the Dublin boardwalk and looked around. Normally I would have found a small village or bench or whatever, but then I just wandered down to the boardwalk, lay on the bench and went asleep. That was it, I just got stuck in Dublin.

“It’s a very dangerous spot (the boardwalk), I’ve seen people get stabbed and murdered. But most of the people knew me and just left me alone.”

He endured all sorts of conditions.

“I lived with it. I was homeless a year before that. I got lashed on, I got frozen. I’d wake up, the sleeping bag would be covered in frost, you’d be afraid of tearing it trying to open it. You’d be waking up soaked to the bone and shivering for the first half hour Sometimes you’d wonder how you’d woke up at all, you’d think you’re dead.”

He tried three different hostels over the space of a year.

“I don’t do drugs but in one of them lads were smoking crack and heroin two feet away from me in the room. I asked them to stop and there was a bit of a kerfuffle over that,” he recalls.

“I was convinced to go into another one. I was promised a room for workers, but I was put in with three Romanian lads and one of the bigger lads tried to strangle me one morning for not being Romanian.”

A third hostel also did not work out after he broke his ribs in a fight.

Cian got into labouring and then went into roofing, and was getting about €150 a day and coming out with about €600 a week.

“The places I was trying to rent had literally hundreds of people trying to see it and I couldn’t afford them. I never got a call back. The ones I did get a call back, I just couldn’t afford. I tried everywhere,” he revealed.

He started living in a converted shipping container in the Wicklow mountains his boss sourced for him, but after a month living there it became too much of an ordeal between commuting and also it being flooded.

He spent about a month living on the streets before deciding to move to northwest England, where he has now found a flat and is working as a labourer on weekdays and as a barman at weekends.

“My rent is £550 a month and with bills it can come up to £670 a month,” he reveals. “The equivalent of this place in Ireland would be about €1800 a month without bills.”

“There’s a foreman on one of the sites in Dublin, he’s on €60 or €70k a year, who also works nights as a security guard, and sleeps in a Portakabin because he can’t get anywhere to rent.

“Loads of lads I know are either in vans or hostels, or hotels with their missus.

“They got me a new passport, work gear, loads of stuff, even though I’m not English. I got no help in Ireland.”

  • Stories From The Street for the next three Mondays at 9pm on Virgin Media One and Virgin Media Player

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