Homeless reveal how they were verbally abused on the streets of Dublin on St Paddy's Day
'St Patrick’s Day was s**t, there was no celebration in if for the homeless'
A number of people sleeping rough on Dublin’s streets have revealed how they were verbally abused by drunken revellers during St Patrick’s weekend festivities.
“Some of them decided to stop and make fun of the homeless. With the drink in them they get smart in themselves, and when they see us they think we are vulnerable,” claims Stephen (27), who is originally from Carlow.
“One guy came up to me and put up his hand and gave me a high-five and said ‘I feel your pain man!’ but didn’t give me any money.”
Stephen has been homeless since the age of 18 and has been sleeping rough in doorways as he’s too afraid to stay in a tent after a horrific incident when he was in Carlow.
“When I was homeless there I was in a tent and somebody on a horse deliberately ran over me while I was in it for a joke.
“So ever since then I won’t stay in a tent, I stay in doorways,” he explained.
“Even if I had a tent there’s a danger your personal belongings would get robbed out of it.
“I don’t like staying in doorways, as you don’t know what can happen to you.
“But it has got to the stage where you get institutionalised on the streets and you say ‘f**k it, whatever happens happens’.
“You get so tired that you don’t care and you just curl up and don’t give a f***.”
He adds: “St Patrick’s Day was s**t, there was no celebration in if for the homeless.
“The general public were dickheads with drink on them to be honest. Some people were alright and threw a few quid or whatever, but most of the public just don’t give a f**k, it’s nothing new to them.”
Stephen had several jobs when he was younger.
“I used to do gardening, I was working in the back of storage place packing jobs, I loved that job,” he says.
“When I was around 18-years-old I had a bit of trouble with my family and I was also going through addiction, which was a problem for me.”
He came to Dublin as he felt he would be better looked after and usually stays around Liffey Street.
“I feel safer on the street than I do in a hostel because there you are put in a room with random people,” he explained.
He added: “You have to be registered homeless in Dublin but I’m from Carlow. I haven’t been registered in Dublin and they refused me a sleeping bag because of that.”
He also admits he has problems with drugs.
“I’m an addict, I’m addicted to crack, I’m addicted to heroin, I’m addicted to benzos, but I’m self-medicating,” he reveals. “People on the street have mental health problems, serious things have happened to them. I’m on the methadone programme but that’s no good.”
He has also been in trouble with the law.
“I’m only just out of jail - we are an easy target for the Guards,” he complains. “They see us and say ‘we are only cleaning up the streets’, but they only target the homeless, they don’t target the people causing the real problems.
“I was in jail for stupid things. Trespassing in a doorway. Smoking drugs aggressively in a doorway and being abusive to people going by. But that’s bulls**t, they just added all that in.”
Thomas (40) and Louise (37) shelter in sleeping bags in a doorway on Grafton Street.
“I’m homeless 20 years,” says Thomas, who is from Dun Laoghaire and cradles a bottle of vodka while he confirms he spent some time in jail.
“I had my tent set on fire once on Grafton Street. We are trying to get help from the charities, but not much,” he argues. “I got friendly with this woman, got friendly on the streets.
“We’d like to get a place, but I can’t see it happening.”
Louise is originally from Poland.
“I’m homeless four months,” she says. “We have sleeping bags and we are trying to get a tent. Every time we get a tent the guards take it or it is robbed. We had six or seven tents.”
She says it was her first Paddy’s Day on the streets.
“It was packed in the city, some of the people were ok but we had a bit of trouble and abuse.
“We are working with Anna Livia (the charity). I ended up homeless just through life. To be honest I’d rather sleep out than stay in a hostel, it’s unsafe in there. We get robbed a lot on the street. One man just a few minutes ago said, ‘hold on I will give you change’ and then just grabbed what I had in my pot.
“The guards sometimes move us on, most of the time they are alright.”
Jason (45) shelters in a tent on Kildare Street, just a few doors up from Leinster House.
“I’m homeless going on eight years, I fell out with my family,” says the father-of-three from Ballyfermot.
He worked with his uncles, who have building site and a security firm.
His tent is slightly hidden away from the main thoroughfare.
“I’m a bit out of the way here so I managed to avoid the drunks,” he says. “The guards have pretty much left me alone as I’m a bit out of the way and out of sight here.
“I’m getting a lot of hassle from the council as they claim people only use tents to use drugs, so they move tents on.
“I was in the hostels already and they have more drugs in there than on the streets. I have a girl staying with me, I just keep a watch over her. She’s only 22. I’m 45.”
Stephen (41) and his partner Finnoula (45) have a tent for nightime and when we encountered them they were sitting at a doorway on St Stephen’s Green.
“I’m homeless a long time - years. I was walking around a lot on St Patrick’s Day. I kept on being moved around different spots. I normally stay on a side street off Grafton street,” explains Stephen, who is a former landscaper from Dun Laoghaire.
“The Guards tell us to move on. There were a few people coming over and (there was some) hassle, but nothing too dangerous. The soup kitchens keep me going.”
Finnoula, who has been with Stephen for eight years, is from Blackrock and has two children. She used to work in bars and in childcare.
“We were robbed five times on the street on Patrick’s Day, mostly from other homeless people,” she revealed. “At least the weather has been good.
“We are 487 on the housing list in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown and we are eight years on the list. God knows if we will ever get our own place.”
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