TD says woman who died was turned away

TD says woman who died was turned away

Gardaí and members of Cork Simon removing bedding on Lower Oliver Plunkett Street, where a woman in her 40s was found dead. The Department of Housing is now investigating claims that she was turned away from accessing a hostel bed in the nearby Simon shelter that night. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The Department of Housing is to investigate claims that a homeless woman who passed away in a doorway in the City this week was turned away from accessing a hostel bed.

Kathleen O'Sullivan passed away while sleeping rough in a doorway on Lower Oliver Plunkett Street.

Her body was discovered just after 11am on Wednesday morning.

There is a lot of anger in the City following Ms O’Sullivan’s death, according to Sinn Fein TD for Cork North Central Jonathan O’Brien who raised the matter in the Dáil.

“The reality is she tried to get into a hostel and she was unable to get into one,” Mr O’Brien said.

“She was told to come back later when they could see what space was available. The doorway she passed away in is the very same doorway her aunt passed away in seven years ago. This is not a new issue in the city. That family has now been touched by tragedy on two occasions and they have to pick up the pieces again.” 

“I understand why some people might be turned away from emergency accommodation. They might be too intoxicated or they might be aggressive when they arrive. However, turning them away and making them sleep in doorways is not the answer.”

 “I am not criticising anybody in the area. All of those involved are doing their best, including the local authority, the statutory agencies and the volunteer groups, but there are just not enough emergency beds available.” 

“Simon is making available an additional 47 spaces, not in bed spaces but by opening up their daycare centres for the night-time where people can sleep on floors. Even at that, it is not meeting the demand in the city at present.” 

“There is a perception, and a genuine feeling on the ground among the volunteer groups which are working in the area, that much of the focus has been on the Dublin area.

In response, Minister of State for Housing Damien English said that he will investigate Deputy O’Brien’s claims.

“Out of consideration for the families, I ask that we respect their privacy and not speculate on the circumstances of the deceased or the cause of death at this time. However, I will check out the Deputy's comment that she had sought to get into a hostel but was not facilitated. I will try to find out the reasons for that and, if possible, deal with it.” 

“At present, there are over 130 hostel type beds available for homeless adults in Cork city. This includes the additional capacity that is currently available under the city council's cold weather strategy.

"Beds are available for these individuals should they wish avail of them and outreach teams continue to work to try and provide solutions for such individuals and to encourage them to avail of accommodation."

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