'Always smiling' Vigil to be held at Dail for 'gentle' dad-of-six found dead in tent in Dublin
“He is not just ‘a homeless person’. He was a person. A person with a face and a family who loved him"
A candle-light vigil is to be held outside the gates of the Dail on Thursday at 7.30pm in memory of a homeless Dublin man who was tragically found dead in a tent.
The body of dad-of-six Thomas (Lynch) Boyd Dowling who was also known as Red Tomo, was discovered by gardaí at Loftus Lane, between Bolton Street and Parnell Street, at around 3am yesterday morning.
An investigation is now underway into the circumstances surrounding his death.
Kiera Gill - of A Lending Hand - an outreach charity, posted a poignant picture of Thomas on Facebook, writing: “This is Thomas, he died on our streets yesterday in a tent in a lane, alone.
“We will be holding a candlelight vigil outside the gates of the Dail on Thursday at 7.30pm to remember Thomas as the human he was and to remind our peers to start looking after and providing adequate hostel accommodation, so no other person has to die alone in a tent on the street, please join us.
“He is not just ‘a homeless person’. He was a person,” Keira added: “A person with a face and a family who loved him!!
"A decent person that fell on hard times, we met him every week, we probably gave him the tent he died in.
“The only home on offer to him at the time. We need to stop being so desensitized by just another homeless person.
"He was Homeless but he was much more than just that.
“He always waited his turn, he was never rude, had lovely manners and always looked out for us girls.
“His friends on the streets are also devastated to lose another pal to the neglect of our peers.
“Please join us in remembering Thomas on Thursday, bring a candle and let's not let his death be in vain.”
Speaking to the Sunday World, Keira explained that she knew Thomas personally as part of her work helping the homeless.
“He was always in good form,” Keira said.
"You can always see the sadness behind the smile but he was always respectful, he had manners.
"You know, he’d tell the other lads, (who would be queuing) ‘the girls can only serve one person at a time, give them a minute’.
“I have been in touch with his family and it is obvious that he was very much loved.
“He had his issues with alcohol but they said he was free spirit and no one could tie him down.”
In a message to Keira, a family member said Thomas had six children as well as a baby, Michael, who had passed away at just three months 19 years ago.
“He has thee grandsons and two more on the way soon,” the family added.
“Thomas was a gentle soul who unfortunately lost his way.
“He would always be there to help everyone, bar himself. He was 44.”
Keira said that she had noticed the homeless crisis escalating, especially since Covid.
“I’m not sure, if a lot of family relations are breaking down or whatever the situation is at home, but it’s pushing people out onto the street,” she said.
“And it’s dangerous, it’s a dog eat dog world. I know I would not survive out there.”
Kiera explained that the vigil is being held because she feels that we, as a society, are becoming desensitised to people on the street.
“They’re just another statistic.
"But they are not just homeless. That’s not all they are. They are someone’s son, a mother, a child. I think we need to keep highlighting this, and not just for poor Thomas.
“We need to keep it out there, keep it in the public eye so everyone can actually see what is going on.
“People say to us all the time, ‘why are they staying in a tent’, and we say, ‘come and listen to their stories.
“It’s very easy it judge, to say, ‘well they chose that', but you don’t know what these people have been dealing with.
“You know, it’s a case of there but for the grace of God, go I. If you turn to drink or drugs, it’s understandable, as a way of surviving.
"Not everyone is wrapped in addiction but if they are then it’s usually because there is trauma there.
“And if you don’t have access to help then you could easily find yourself in a similar situation.
Kiera added that if people like Thomas were taking their chances to stay in a tent over the accommodation that is provided by the State, then something is “very wrong”.
“The services that are working, work well, but the problem is, there just isn’t enough being done," she added.
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