Many people, including the homeless community, feel unsafe on the streets of Cork.

Cork’s addiction problems are ‘hugely complex’

Recent reports of young people offering sex for money to fund their addictions reflects the vulnerability of homeless people in Cork.

That’s according to Paul Sheehan of Cork Simon who said the trauma of sleeping rough combined with substance dependency can leave homeless people extremely vulnerable.

“Anybody sleeping rough would feel vulnerable, there's no security at all and that's a basic human need,” Mr Sheehan told the Cork Independent.

“From talking to the people here and working with addiction, it's a hugely complex area and it's easy to pinpoint that somebody is addicted to a particular substance and it's driving everything they do, but quite often it runs a lot deeper than that. Quite often the behaviours might be there without the addiction as well,” he added.

Mr Sheehan’s comments follow reports that men and women as young as 18 are selling themselves on the streets of Cork city for as little as €10 in order to afford drugs.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, Michael ‘Mucca’ Twomey, well-known in Cork’s music scene as DJ Mucca, said he has been approached at least 7 times since last August by young people offering sex for money.

“There’s a lot more drug addicts than guards in the city. They go around in groups and they’re all kids, 17 and 18, absolutely smashed. You don’t see the older addicts because they’re all dead; they’ve all died from overdoses,” said Mr Twomey, who has recently found himself without a permanent address following the sale of his family home.

“The rehab centres are full up, it’s impossible to get into one, there’s a waiting list of 6 months - that 6 months could kill a person,” he added.

Mr Twomey, who in the past has raised thousands for numerous charities in Cork, said the city can be quite a dangerous place to be these days and that he is now reluctant to walk certain streets at certain times of the day.

“I’m kind of losing faith in the place to be honest. The guards can only do so much. I’m 42 and I don’t walk through town that much anymore. I used to love walking through town.

“There’s not enough guards on the street. They don’t have the manpower. Junkies are in every side street in every part of Cork, anywhere they can go to hide and get their drugs.”

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s ‘Drivetime’ recently, Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Deirdre Forde called for increased garda resources in Cork to ensure public safety.

She also said she believes there isn’t a woman in Ireland who has not felt unsafe at some stage depending on the day or the hour that they’re out alone.

She said: “Certainly, I would feel a bit insecure in some parts of the city centre. I don’t want to stigmatise any particular area. I’m a tough old bird and I wouldn’t be easily intimidated. Whilst the garda numbers have increased by almost 13% in Cork city since 2015, the Bridewell (Garda Station) in Cork city has 30% less gardaí than a year ago. And Bishopstown and Watercourse Road have also seen a reduction,” she added.