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Cruel intentions Homeless lash out at council boss Owen Keegan over plans to eradicate tented shelters

'He wants to build that raft place for himself and his pals to look after their hobby, yet he won't look after the homeless - €25 million, Jaysus!'

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Eugene Masterson chats with people living on the streets of Dublin.

Eugene Masterson chats with people living on the streets of Dublin.

Eugene Masterson chats with people living on the streets of Dublin.

Furious homeless people living in tents in Dublin city centre have lashed out at council boss Owen Keegan over his hopes and plans to eradicate such temporary shelters from the streets.

Several homeless people we spoke to were enraged that Dublin City Council CEO Owen Keegan has publicly backed a project to build a whitewater rafting centre in the docklands area at a cost of €25 million.

The council boss was speaking in the wake of the attack on Irish Olympian Jack Woolley last weekend, a story first broken by Sundayworld.com

"There are other aspects, like the proliferation of tents, and I'll get into trouble for saying this, but we don't think people should be allowed sleep in tents when there's an abundance of supervised accommodation in hostels," Mr Keegan said on Newstalk radio show The Hard Shoulder.

"We remove tents, it's something we do. It's not very popular but we do it because we don't believe it's appropriate. It adds to a perception of a city that is too edgy for some people, and people respond to that by saying 'well I just won't go into the city centre'."

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Eugene Masterson chats with people living on the streets of Dublin.

Eugene Masterson chats with people living on the streets of Dublin.

Eugene Masterson chats with people living on the streets of Dublin.

 

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Eugene Masterson speaking with homeless people camped out in Dublin city centre, where the council removes their tents.

Eugene Masterson speaking with homeless people camped out in Dublin city centre, where the council removes their tents.

Eugene Masterson speaking with homeless people camped out in Dublin city centre, where the council removes their tents.

But his comments have met with fury from numerous homeless people who live in tents in the capital.

"He wants to build that raft place for himself and his pals to look after their hobby, yet he won't look after the homeless - €25 million, Jaysus!" rages Paul (38), who is from Tallaght and lives in a tent on Henry Street.

Paul has been homeless for several years, primarily over family issues and is a former roofer.

"The hostels are full of drugs," he stresses. "If you were trying to get your head together and get off drugs. I used to be a heroin addict and I got off heroin on the streets. I used to be in one certain hostel and it's full of drugs. I'm in a room with four or five other men and I'm trying to come off drugs and everyone else f***ng on them."

Life is grim for Paul and girlfriend, Alisha (38), who is also from Tallaght and lives with him in their tent.

"We spend our days begging and tapping, it's not for booze or drugs, it's for food and to keep us going," he points out. "The winter was really bad, we were very cold in the tents.

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"We'd love a room in a hotel ourselves, but we won't be offered one."

He adds: "This Keegan guy no doubt lives in a big house, is on a big wage and has a great life. Yet he wants to deprive us of even a tent."

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Owen Keegan of Dublin City Council.

Owen Keegan of Dublin City Council.

Owen Keegan of Dublin City Council.

 

Alisha, who asked us to buy her clothes in Penneys, has had a rough time in temporary accommodation.

"I went to a hostel and my runners and my coat was gone. In a different hostel, I got paid on the Monday and I stayed in the hostel and then my money disappeared overnight," says Alisha, who previously worked as a hairdresser.

"The police came and I had to go down and report it. I had to live on nothing for that week.

"Hostels are also full of drugs. If we were allowed to go into a hotel like that we would go in because we'd have our own room. I'm homeless now a couple of years. I ended up homeless because of family stuff. I'm together with Paul now two years and I'm 38, I'm years waiting for a house. I'm Irish and I never got one chance, that's not fair."

She, too, is angry with Mr Keegan.

"It's so wrong what he's saying and also the way he wants to waste millions on a white elephant vanity project for his own enjoyment," she rages.

"Hostels are dangerous. You can't say anything in them, or you'd get a slap. I'd rather be in a tent as its safer. I'd love my own place. Sometimes we'd go to the toilet and our tent has been taken away.

"He wants our tents gone, taking our home away, If the tents are gone what's going to give us shelter in the winter when the snow and rain comes. He can't say 'oh you can sleep in McDonalds all day'."

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Homeless people say they don’t feel safe in hostel accommodation that is being provided.

Homeless people say they don’t feel safe in hostel accommodation that is being provided.

Homeless people say they don’t feel safe in hostel accommodation that is being provided.

 

Graham (27) is originally from Lurgan, Co. Armagh and lives in an adjoining tent to Paul and Alisha.

"I'm homeless six years, five of that has been in Dublin," he tells us. "They told me I would have to wait five years before they would put me on a register. But I had death threats and had to stay down here. I have received absolutely no help whatsoever.

"If they want to take my tent, they need to give me a gaff and not one of those hostels where I'm going to get robbed constantly."

He pleads for more intervention.

"We need homeless centres not whitewater rafting centres," he insists. "They are putting no money into rehabilitation in this country, they're putting it all into making the city look fancy.

"He does not realise how hard it is living on the streets, and even when we are in our tents we do have stuff thrown at us. We charge our phones at the Dublin bike stands, which helps us keep in touch with people. Fair play to you, you're the only one doing anything for us, nobody else has been around asking how we are and what can be done."

Graham lives in his tent with fellow Belfast man David (27).

"I'm down here a year and I may be from Belfast, but I can't even get a PPS number ...so I can't get social welfare. I refuse to stay in a hostel as they're full of drugs."

In another tent sleeps Mairead (35), who is originally from Co. Clare, and shares her home with Noel (42) and Paul (44), both from Dublin.

"We live on my dole, my social welfare and I help the others out with my few bob," she said.

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