Tragic death | 

Traveller who died after unsuccessfully seeking accommodation 'treated equally', says housing authority

Mum-of-two Charlene Sherlock collapsed and died under a bridge in Carrick-on-Shannon on July 13, 2020

Mum-of-two Charlene Sherlock

Patrick O'Connell

A homeless young Traveller woman, who died just hours after she unsuccessfully sought emergency accommodation, was not treated any differently because of her ethnicity, a housing authority has insisted.

Mum-of-two Charlene Sherlock collapsed and died under a bridge in Carrick-on-Shannon on July 13, 2020 - the same day she was given a sleeping bag and told there was no emergency accommodation by Leitrim County Council.

The young woman's father, James Sherlock, this week told the Sligo Champion newspaper that the local authority should be ashamed, adding he believed his daughter's Traveller ethnicity was a factor in the level of care she received.

"Had it been anybody else she probably would have been put up," he said.

"Unfortunately it's the way Travellers are treated in this country.

Charlene Sherlock

A spokesperson for Leitrim County Council insisted to the Sunday World this week that it treats all emergency accommodation applicants equally.

"All persons presenting as homeless to Leitrim County Council are treated in an equal and fair manner."

The inquest into Ms Sherlock's death heard how, on the morning of July 13, Ms Sherlock's partner was found dead at 12, Cappagh, Mohill, Co. Leitrim.

Garda Niall McDonnell, told the inquest Ms Sherlock was very upset and he believed if he left Ms Sherlock she would self harm, or worse.

A health assessment was later carried out which found Ms Sherlock did not pose a risk to herself and did not meet the criteria to be admitted.

Gda McDonnell informed the inquest Ms Sherlock had recently lost her home at 14, Cappagh, Mohill and was effectively homeless.

The garda and his colleagues tried for a number of hours to secure emergency accommodation, contacting women's refuges across the country.

They were advised the best option was for Ms Sherlock to present herself to Leitrim County Council.

An application was made for housing to the local authority and the council said there was no housing stock available. Leitrim County Council gave Ms Sherlock a sleeping bag. Gda McDonnell told her she could sleep in the public office of the Garda station that night.

CCTV footage later showed her walking across the bridge in Carrick-on-Shannon and buying a litre bottle of vodka. She was later found collapsed under the county bridge. Ms Sherlock was transferred to Sligo University Hospital, but died that night.

An autopsy showed Ms Sherlock had toxic and possibly lethal levels of alcohol in her blood along with three types of medication, one of which was Xanax.

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