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Cllr Finn: 'No more excuses'

Wednesday, 6th September, 2017 6:07pm

Up to 20 homeless people are living in tents in Cork city with the situation at "crisis levels" according to Christina Chalmers, founder of Helping Cork's Homeless charity.

Ms Chalmers says she was "shocked and saddened" by the death of 30 year old Jennifer Dennehy in a tent at Gillabbey Park on the southside of the city last Friday.

"She was only recently homeless. Only about five days. She had been living in an apartment in Cork city and she recently left that property and she was staying with one of our homeless clients in a tent. He was effectively putting her up in his tent. He is homeless himself. I was speaking to him and he was very distraught about it. He woke up during the night and found out that she wasn't alive."

Ms Chalmers said one of their clients who lives in a tent recently told her that youths have taken to setting fire to tents in bouts of anti-social behaviour.

"He told me he woke up and felt the flames. The flames nearly hurt his partner's face. He said it was only for the grace of God that they woke up and got out because the whole thing was going to go up in flames," she said.

Meanwhile, former community worker and current Sinn Fein councillor, Chris O'Leary, said he is "inundated" with calls from people who are facing homelessness.

"It's heartbreaking and it's all the time. It doesn't go away. It is not being addressed as a crisis. It is as simple as that. Jennifer Dennehy was only in her thirties. It is so very sad for the family.

“In my background as a community worker, I deal with 100 people a week facing homeless issues. The legacy of our time will be homelessness. So many people are people forced in to homelessness. There are too many vested interests in this country. I have been hardened in ways as a community worker but I am heartbroken from dealing with this."

Independent councillor in the city, Mick Finn, said the death of Ms Dennehy was a "damning indictment of the Government".

He continued: "No more excuses. Three people dead are in a week because the Government cannot meet the the most basic of human needs. Immediate action is needed, not grand plans, that ministers stake reputations on because those reputations count for nothing."

Jennifer Dennehy, who was a native of Blackrock was laid to rest yesterday, Wednesday, following a funeral mass in Ballinlough.

Ms Dennehy had been sleeping rough in a tent for a few days having been evicted from her apartment on the Western Road. She was in receipt of rent allowance and was housed by the local authority in recent years.

Three homeless people have died in tents nationally in the last week. Danielle Carroll (27) from Tallaght, Dublin, died in the Leixlip House Hotel in Kildare while Jack Watson (50), a former chef, was found unconscious on Thursday morning on Suffolk Street in Dublin city centre.

He was later pronounced dead in hospital.

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