Mental health orders used to force rough sleepers indoors

The Simon Communities said the legislation is always "the very, very last resort"

Mental health orders used to force rough sleepers indoors

Dublin City Centre after the Blizzard conditions of Storm Emma, 02-03-2018. IMage: Sam Boal RollingNews

A number of homeless people were sectioned and taken into care under the Mental Health Act after refusing to go into emergency hostels last night.

Homeless charities have said at least 14 people slept rough in Dublin last night.

The Peter McVerry Trust has said staff were engaging with homeless people until 5.30am this morning.

They identified 21 people, six of whom were persuaded to access shelter.

Mental health orders were used to force some indoors, but Simon Communities spokesperson Niamh Randall from the Simon Community said that is never their first choice.

“This is always the option of the very, very last resort,” she said.

“I imagine in those situations it was looking at whether people were making informed choices and if they were in a position to actually be making good decisions about themselves.

“I think it would have been done of the basis of; there was a real fear.”

She said the weather emergency highlighted the fact that normal rough sleeper counts "really are minimum counts." 

The Irish Times reports that one of the people forced indoors was a women with serious mental health issues who had been sleeping in a hole in a wall.

The hospital reportedly refused to take her in until the gardaí intervened.

This morning, Inner City Helping Homeless CEO Anthony Flynn said State bodies had failed to engage meaningfully with the woman and "chose to ignore her."

Many parts of the country were hit by heavy snow and blizzard-like conditions overnight.

A Status Red snow and ice warning will remain in place across Galway, Leinster and Munster until at least 6pm this evening as Storm Emma continues to bring icy conditions.

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive has asked anyone who sees anyone sleeping rough to report it here.