Dublin Homeless Executive chief Eileen Gleeson: 'I probably could have used better language'

She questioned the value of "ad hoc" groups that give out food and tents


A person is pictured begging on the Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin | Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

12:44 15 Nov 2017 Jack Quann 12:44 Wednesday 15 November 2017

The head of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) has said she "could have probably used better language" in relation to homelessness.

Eileen Gleeson was speaking at a Housing Special Policy Committee on Tuesday.

She questioned the value of "ad hoc" groups that give out food and tents.

She said it does not help in the long run because years of "bad behaviour" cannot be solved by the efforts of unauthorised groups.

And she said people sleeping on the banks of the Royal Canal are reluctant to engage with services.

"They're quite happy to continue with the chaotic lifestyle they have, and if somebody's providing them some sort of half-way shelter they willingly take it, set up tent in this case and perch.

"But our housing outreach teams are dealing with it.

"I would be of the opinion that if there wasn't groups going down there to feed them everyday, they mightn't stay there for much longer".

But speaking to Ciara Kelly on Lunchtime Live, Ms Gleeson said her comments need to be put in context.

"To be honest, I could have probably used better language in trying to explain the point I was trying to make.

"But the point I was trying to make was the outcomes are higher for people who are engaged with the system."

"The point I was trying to make was that while they're well-intentioned, and there is nothing per se wrong with what people are doing in providing voluntary services - but homeless people deserve to be treated with dignity and humanity and they deserve to be treated with services that will allow them to link through so we can get them out of homelessness.

"While the volunteer services are doing a great job and they;re well-intentioned, they're not necessarily getting people to the outcome that's needed, which is to get them out of homelessness - and that's the point I was trying to make".

"I was answering a direct question that I was asked by one of our public reps."

"The point I was trying to make was that we need to have services that our professional , we need to have services that have a pathway of getting out of homelessness".

On the overall homeless crisis, Ms Gleeson said: "The job of the DRHE is to respond to homelessness and to put structures in place to deal with it... and we've done that for the most part.

"The fundamental issue here is supply - so that people can stay in their own homes or they can provide their own homes for themselves at the end of the day.

"So while we have a situation and an economy where demand is outstripping supply, homelessness will continue".

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