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'Homelessness situation breaks my heart'

Monday, 26th December, 2011 12:00am
'Homelessness situation breaks my heart'

• FRUSTRATED: Fr Peter McVerry with his dog, Jack.

'Homelessness situation breaks my heart'

• FRUSTRATED: Fr Peter McVerry with his dog, Jack.


priest and champion of the homeless,Fr Peter McVerry, has spoken out about his

frustration, anger and shame of having to turn people away from his shelters at

a time when the city has a glut of empty properties.

The Ballymun

resident and founder of the Peter McVerry Trust told Northside People how his

charity is unable to cater for the number of homeless people who turn to it for


“There's no

doubt that the number of homeless people has increased significantly in the

last 12 months,” he explained.

“But our hands

are somewhat tied because we've had a 25 per cent reduction in our funding in

the last three years.

“We've had many

nights when we've had to turn people away leaving them with nowhere to sleep

but the streets and it's got to the stage where I'm reluctant to put anyone on

the waiting list because it's so long.

“It used to be

two weeks but now it's more like three months.”

Fr McVerry

believes that the recession has significantly added to the homelessness crisis,

as money worries have caused many relationships to break down.

The Trust is

supporting twice as many people as this time last year and has been forced to

cut its expenditure down to a “bare minimum”.

“In the 22

years since we opened our first hostel, I don't think I've ever experienced

such hopelessness about the homelessness situation,” he revealed.

“It breaks my

heart and I feel I shouldn't have to tell people that there's nothing we can


“It's an

absolute disgrace and a total scandal that we as a country are allowing people

to live like this.

“We are not

that poor of a country that we can't afford to see to it that everyone has a

bed to sleep in, especially when there are so many vacant units in our towns

and cities.”

He added: “The

failure of the Government and State to provide for the most vulnerable people

in our society is an absolute scandal.”

There has been

a dramatic increase in the number of non-Irish nationals who have been left

with little option but to sleep rough, according to Fr McVerry.

“These are

people who came to this country to work but lost their jobs in the recession,”

he explained.

“They are not

entitled to social welfare so they have no money for food or accommodation.

They are trapped in their homelessness and trapped in this country.”

Fr McVerry

fears that the homelessness situation will inevitably lead people to abuse

drugs to cope with life on the streets.

“If people

suddenly find themselves sleeping rough because they've lost their jobs or their

personal relationships have broken down, they will undoubtedly feel very low,

demoralised and desperate,” he explained.

“Drugs will be

in their face and it does become very difficult to keep saying no, so often

people are likely to give in and take something to give them a little buzz and

to make things a little more bearable, even if it is for a short time.”

The Peter

McVerry Trust relies heavily on the public and private sector for financial

support and donations so it can continue to provide vital services to young

homeless people.

• If you would

like to help Open Doors For Homeless People, contact Peter McVerry Trust on

8230776 or visit www.pmvtrust.ie

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