Organised begging returns to Cork city centre

Organised begging returns to Cork city centre
Rough Sleepers in Cork. Photo: Billy macGill

ORGANISED begging has returned to the city centre according to business owners in Cork.

Cork Business Association Chief Executive Lawrence Owens said the issue was dealt with by Gardaí over the Christmas period, but the problem has now returned.

He said that coming into the summer period, with tourists visiting the city, it is not showcasing the city at its finest.

“We have a massive tourist season coming on, the highest numbers of tourists coming in to Cork, and it is the first thing you see now entering the city.”

Mr Owens said the phenomenon of organised begging is affecting the city centre and action was required by An Garda Síochána to tackle it.

“There needs to be ongoing action, not just a one-day wonder, it needs to be ongoing. We need to keep our city open and free for tourists to enjoy.”

In the run up to Christmas, five Romanian nationals were brought before Cork District Court to face begging charges as the judge warned them that any future repeat offences could result in jail terms.

Former CBA President and English Market trader Pat O’Connell said the trend of people flying in from another country to beg on the streets in Cork was very frustrating to see.

“As a trader in the city centre, it is difficult to see people come in and abuse people’s feelings towards homelessness because I think a lot of people think that these are genuine homeless Irish people and they are anything but. They are coming here for one reason and that is to get as much money from Irish people’s pockets as they can through sympathy.

“I think there are an awful lot of charities, Penny Dinners and many more, who are putting selfless hours in to help the genuine homeless in this city. Donations that they probably would have received are instead going out of the country to fund some Mr Big, or somebody somewhere who is organising all this. This is highly organised.”

Mr O’Connell said that he has seen the fruits of this activity in the English Market.

“We see it in the English Market where they come in and cash the coins of €180/€190 and there are many many decent Irish people who are working for less than that every day.”

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