mean streets | 

Irish woman who spent a decade on Dublin streets about to become homeless again

After the gangland murder of her boyfriend in 2009, she said a close relative took their own life which left her ‘unable to even look after myself’

Melissa and her new partner, David Gallagher, whom she met while living rough, had a couple’s room in a hostel for the last three years but have been unable to find anywhere else to live.

MURDERED: Melissa’s former partner Graham McNally

Eamon DillonSunday World

A woman whose life fell apart after the gangland murder of her boyfriend is facing the prospect of being turned onto the streets again after being told her hostel accommodation won’t be available any longer.

Melissa Deegan told the Sunday Worldhow she spent a decade as a homeless person with time spent living rough in the Phoenix Park and Dublin’s Docklands.

Melissa and her new partner, David Gallagher, who she met while living rough, had a couple’s room in a hostel for the last three years but have been unable to find anywhere else to live.

“I just feel like I’m a statistic, one of the 10,000 homeless. It’s like going around in a circle,” she said.

They explained they were told their bed has “closed” and that their accommodation had originally been meant as a short-term emergency.

Both of them suffer from medical conditions and in Melissa’s case, mental health issues, leaving them dependent on each other.

After the murder of her then boyfriend Graham McNally in 2009, she said a close relative took their own life which left her “unable to even look after myself.”

MURDERED: Melissa’s former partner Graham McNally

Carrying two black plastic bags with their belongings, Melissa said they have a week to find somewhere to leave their possessions or what they’ve left in their hostel will be dumped.

“After a while they don’t know what to do with you,” said David.

Melissa said they had been emailing landlords “left, right and centre” but that no-one gets back to them.

“We’ll have to walk the streets,” she said.

At the moment, they have nowhere to go during the day and have been spending their time in public buildings to stay warm and access WiFi.

“I’m continually emailing TDs, but they told me they can’t get involved in individual cases.”

She said only for one of the hostel staff they would already have been forced to leave and be dependent on the emergency accommodation services.

In that scenario, the chances of getting a couples’ room are slim and they face being put up in different parts of the city while surviving on their joint social welfare income of €340.

They’ve met other people who have been homeless who expressed surprise to hear the couple are still without a home, according to Melissa.

Melissa Deegan and her new partner, David Gallagher, whom she met while living rough, had a couple’s room in a hostel for the last three years but have been unable to find anywhere else to live.

They are currently on the Dublin City Council housing waiting list and although Melissa says they’ve been told their place on the list is in the “mid-thirties” it still could take years before they are housed.

The Simon Community had helped them get into a hostel a number of years ago after three and a half months spent sleeping rough.

They described the experience as dangerous and on more than one occasion awoke to find someone trying to steal from them.

“His runners were robbed off his feet, another time we woke up to find someone going through his pockets,” said Melissa.

They slept wherever they thought was safe, moving away from near Connolly Station because “there were always people around us, it was too dangerous.”

But the immediate concern for the couple is where they’ll spend their nights as the winter closes in with no prospect of permanent accommodation.

“Where are we going to be by next Christmas? It’s like we are always fighting a losing battle,” said Melissa.

“We’re ten years getting nowhere.”

This week the Dublin Region Homeless Executive announced it is ready to activate its Extreme Weather Emergency Protocol in the event of a weather warning.

It met with organisations working with homeless people in the city last Monday to discuss the plan, which it said will “ensure homeless persons at risk are sheltered”.

Nearly 11,397 people were recorded as homeless in October, according to the Government’s official tally.

It was the fourth month in a row that the Department of Housing’s figures have increased to a new high.

Housing charity Focus Ireland previously said the figures represented a 29pc rise in the number of people homeless in 12 months.

Focus Ireland and other housing charities have also argued that the Government’s official figures are not a fully accurate way showing of how many people are homeless across the country.


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