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Fair City star says homeless storyline hit home due to crisis faced by his own friends

Friends of TV actor Michael Sheehan are in a similar predicament to his soap character

Michael Sheehan (Dean) with Maria Oxley Boarman (Dearbhla) in Fair City

TV show highlights housing issues

Eugene Masterson

FAIR City actor Michael Sheehan reveals he can empathise with his TV character Dean Dowling becoming homeless as two of his own personal friends are facing a similar crisis.

Viewers of the hit soap have lately seen Dean sleep on the floor of his takeaway truck and later seek overnight refuge in a gym he has been using after losing his flat and not being able to find anywhere proper to live.

Chef Dean recently turned down an offer to stay in an apartment as there were too many stipulations to live in it, and will next be seen buying a van with the purpose of sleeping in it.

“I know of two people, friends of mine, who are in similar positions and not exactly doing what the character is doing, but very very close to it,” Michael (41) tells the Sunday World.

“Again, these are people, they have jobs and everything like that, it’s just the way things are going. It’s a basic human right to have a roof over your head and some sort of dignity. It’s an occurrence at the moment unfortunately.

“I have just been trying to play it as truthfully as I can really and I talked to those people I know, and my heart goes out to them and others caught like this.

“It’s very tricky doing a storyline like that, obviously, because of everything going on with the country, with the housing crisis and stuff like that. I have been very conscious of that. It’s just a story about one individual, and I suppose it shows the character’s resilience in terms of like trying to make the best of a terrible lot.”

He says the abandonment of the rent freeze policy as well as soaring mortgage rate increases and the accommodation crisis are causing a lot of suffering.

“It’s gone crazy. You think in a country, we are always told without getting into the weeds politically, you are told how well the country is doing economically and you kind of look around and say ‘at what cost’, shouldn’t you look after people’s bloody mental health, where they haven’t got a home, that should be one of the first things you try to fix,” he says.

The Sunday World previously revealed how Michael, who has been in Fair City for 13 years, married wife Claire in late 2020 and bought a house two years earlier.

The couple have now been together nearly seven years and spent lockdown together in their Co. Kildare home.

Soap fans saw Dean lose his home when a flat he and Sean had been renting was seized by Orla Molloy, who wanted to live there with her son But Orla ended up letting her cousin Sean stay with her in the apartment, while Dean was left roomless.

Dean was then forced to sleep on a sofa in his dad Leo’s house, but moved out after run-ins with Bosco, as well as being uncomfortable with several others such as Ray and his new wife Nora also staying there.​

Lately, fans hoped his problems has been solved when Melanie offered him first choice of an apartment up for rent.

TV show highlights housing issues

TV show highlights housing issues

“The apartment was owned by Joan and initially he thought ‘brilliant, this is the answer to my prayers kind of thing’,

...and then he was told ‘no you can’t touch anything structurally, you can’t put any nails into the walls, it has to be left’.

“So he realised it was going to be more of a cage than a home, and he didn’t want so it didn’t suit him to do that, says Michael, who is originally from the Stradbally, Co. Waterford, and initially trained to be a lawyer before turning to acting.

He confirms that Dean’s dad Leo “thinks he has lost his mind” when he shows up with the van this weekend and finds out he intends to use it as his new home.

Dean had also hoped to move in with nurse Anna, but called a halt in their relationship when she decided she wanted to stay in her own rented house with her own housemates and not even let him move in there.

“I think it’s a classic thing of two people wanting very very different things at that point in their lives and Dean is ready to settle down and kind of put down roots and I think Anna wasn’t there yet,” he says.

Fair City is on RTÉ One tonight at 8pm

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