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Hard-hitting RTE Investigates documentary shocks viewers as homeless man seeking bed hung up on

"Wow, I can’t book you anywhere tonight," the operator responds before adding: "I don't need to hear the story.


Joe tries to find a bed

Joe tries to find a bed

Joe tries to find a bed

There has been a huge reaction from disgusted viewers after last night’s RTE Investigates shed a painful light on the predicament facing members of Ireland’s homeless community. 

The hard-hitting documentary, which aired on Monday night on RTE 1, followed the stories of a number of Dublin's rough sleepers during the harsh winter period.

In one segment, Joe Nolan seeks help in securing a bed for the night.

Joe, who told the show that he had been living on the streets since he left prison in 2011, reaches out to the Dublin Region Homelessness Executive but the operator on the phone hangs up on him.

As Joe does not originally come from Dublin he was told they could not help him.

"Wow, I can’t book you anywhere tonight," the operator responds before adding: "I don't need to hear the story.

"You have registered in Carlow so you should interact.

"Now you're in Dublin, we can't do anything for you unfortunately."

The operator then hangs up on Joe while he is still speaking to them.

A DRHE representative tells the show that they are "not responsible for providing accommodation for everyone in the country”.

Another young man, Dan (20) explains that he had moved from Latvia to Kildare with his mother when he was 10 but that at 15 the house he was living in was sold and he became homeless.

He became estranged from his mother and ended up living on the city centre streets.

He tells the documentary: "At the start - the first two to three weeks in Dublin - I wouldn't beg.

"Then, three weeks in, I said to myself: 'I'm sleeping in a doorway, I'm not washing myself, it's no harm.'

"Then I started begging."

But when he tries to access services, Dan is told by an operator they could not help him.

The person says: "To be helped out by us you need to have some local connection to Dublin.

"We are not allowed to help people from Kildare."

The programme created a massive reaction from viewers, with one person tweeting: ‘We are failing homeless people in Ireland. How are people expected to turn their lives around if we don't offer them any support? You can't just give people a bed, they need mental health support, employment opportunities and guidance.’

Activist Mick Finnegan said: "Watching #RTEInvestigates is bringing back a lot of memories.

"I slept rough on the streets for years. It's one of the worst things you can experience.

"My first night on the streets I slept at the bottom of Grafton Street directly opposite of Trinity College."

Another viewer said: ‘This is disgusting and no way to treat humans.

‘My God, I’m in disbelief that these people can literally pick up the phone and ask for help and be turned away. Disgraceful."

While one viewer adds: "You know when you can just tell that someone has a good soul. Feel terrible for Dan, he deserves a chance."

Social Democrats Housing spokesperson, Cian O’Callaghan, said the programme put a spotlight on a homelessness crisis that has persisted for far too long.

“Last night’s RTÉ investigates programme exposed a homeless support system that is badly broken,” he said. “We need urgent and radical reform. We cannot tolerate a situation where people are sleeping rough because they have been denied access to emergency accommodation. We have to eliminate homelessness in Ireland.

“Homelessness isn’t inevitable. It is a direct result of the decisions made by the Government. The solution to the crisis is clear - build social and affordable homes for those that need them. Re-direct the resources that are put into private providers of emergency hostels into long-term secure accommodation for people who have become homeless. Provide supports where they are needed.

“All that is required is the political will and ambition on the part of Government. I’m calling on the Government to begin by making a clear commitment to eliminate homelessness in Ireland.”

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Online Editors