New proposal would ban use of 'anti-homeless' measures on buildings

Waterways Ireland has defended its decision to raise the water levels at Binns Bridge on Dorset Street

New proposal would ban use of 'anti-homeless' measures on buildings

Gandon House on Amiens Street, where there are a number of offices for the Department of Social Welfare. Image: Stephanie Grogan / Newstalk

There are calls for new laws to be introduced preventing companies from installing anti-homeless measures like spikes, bars and water sprinklers on their properties.

The moves comes after Waterways Ireland defended its decision to raise the water levels at Binns Bridge on Dorset Street in North Dublin to stop rough sleepers from sheltering there.

The Solidarity party is hoping its new Bill would stop measures like these.

Cork North Central TD Mick Barry explains how it would work:

“The bill would basically allow members of the public to challenge these anti-homeless devices by bringing it to the attention of councils, by highlighting the issue of planning permission and putting it back on the owners to prove that it is not an anti-homeless device,” he said.

Public safety

Waterways Ireland has defended the move – insisting that people are taking drugs in the area and it is littered with needles and human faeces.

In a statement, the agency said that is has an obligation to ensure the safety of the staff and members of the public who use the lock.

"Any homeless people sleeping under the bridge were at serious risk of a significant fall and drowning hazard in the deep lock chamber,” it said.

"All the alternative solutions we have tried to maintain public safety in the area, including fencing it off, have failed."

Inhumane

However, homeless volunteer Pádraig Drummond said the response was inhumane, adding that many of the rough sleepers have nowhere else to go.

“A lot of them here would rather stay here than go in to the hostels that they are being offered,” he said.

“They are going in, they are getting assaulted, they are getting robbed.

“Some of them that are here would be doing rehabilitation counselling and that and then when they are going in there they are seeing the drug usage again being thrown at them.

“At least here they can walk away from that.”

He said the decision to raise the water levels will achieve nothing, adding that it is “just pushing homelessness into another neighbourhood."

Pointing to recent comments from a number of figures in authority; he said the decision appears to be yet another show of disrespect for people who are struggling on the streets.