Dáil debates

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Homeless Persons Data

8:35 pm

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy for raising this very important issue, which we also discussed six weeks ago. There have been, as he rightly said, a number of deaths recently of people who were either rough sleeping or accessing homeless services. Every death is a tragedy. I have already and will extend again my sympathy to their families, friends and to the service providers who get to know many of their clients very well. We all know that every single death hurts in that respect.

To better understand what is happening the DRHE, along with the HSE, have jointly commissioned a time-bound detailed review of all recent deaths in homeless services. It will be authored by Dr. Jo-Hanna Ivers, who is assistant professor in addiction at the department of public health and primary care in the school of medicine, Trinity College Dublin, who is a very eminent person with experience who has done work in Britain where she published an article in the British Medical Journalon the five year standardised mortality ratios in a cohort of homeless people in Dublin. We also need to understand what is behind this.

The week before last I visited a wonderful development on Haddington Road of an old 1820s house which has been refurbished into 18 single apartments. Pat Doyle, the chief executive of the Peter McVerry Trust, explained it very well when he said that there are stories behind each of these deaths. He spoke of one gentleman who sadly passed away earlier this year who was a friend of Fr. McVerry himself. The trust had supported him for years and he died of cancer earlier this year. He passed away in his own place with his own key and with support all around him. He is included as a homeless death because he was accessing homeless services, and rightly so. It would be wrong, however, to believe that he and many others in those numbers are people who have died on the streets. Some have and that is not something that we want to see. We need to get a better picture of what is happening to see if there are any trends because there has been a marked increase. The work mentioned is a time-bound one which I will share with colleagues and with the Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage.


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