A €1 million grant has been approved for a second hostel in Cork for homeless Irish Defence Force veterans.
ONE, the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel (Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann), charity was awarded the grant following an application lodged with the Department of Housing.
The charity was established in 1951 and its primary objective is to support the needs of Irish veterans through a network of support centres and accommodation.
The grant will help the charity to renovate and repurpose the long-time vacant HSE-owned building in St Luke’s in the Northside of Cork city.
“Our plan is it will be a six-bedroom home for homeless veterans within the Munster region," ONE CEO, Cormac Kirwin said. "This will be our fifth home.
"We opened our fourth home in Cobh in 2021 and that was a five-bedroom facility. Currently, that facility is full and there is a waiting list so we expect to fill this new home in Cork very quickly.”
ONE developed their Cobh facility in a former social welfare office on Harbour Row close to the Haulbowline naval base, and it was officially opened by Defence Minister Simon Coveney in October 2021.
The second Cork hostel will be named Óstán Uí Choileáin after Cork's Michael Collins. Collins was the first commander-in-chief of the National Army, and the 100th anniversary of his death was commemorated in August of this year.
“The Cork and Kerry region has approximately 28,000 veterans which is 20% of the overall veteran population. With those numbers, unfortunately we do get issues associated with our homeless veterans and it is our challenge to provide the support services to help them,” Mr Kirwin told The Echo.
Research has shown that depression, disabilities and PTSD caused by serving oversees can lead to the breakdown of relationships for former Defence Force members.
“The reality is that the Irish Defence Forces would be a citizen army in the sense that most would live in the community. Its not like the British or Americans that live on bases as such. So, issues that you would have in the community, are reflected in the Defence Forces but then add to that, potential issues that would be associated with PTSD and service oversees,” explained the CEO.
The charity CEO highlighted the importance of providing this service for veterans who have not only suffered from homelessness but have also received a blow to their pride.
“The intention behind the hostel is that it will be a home for homeless veterans. Using the template of our most recent home down in Cobh, we will be providing three meals a day. Anyone that is a resident in this facility will be fed and accommodated.”
Over 900 veterans have been supported by the charity’s accommodation in their homes in Cobh, Dublin, Athlone and Letterkenny.
“Our aim is that the homeless veterans that’s come into our home will develop the life skills, that will allow them, in time, to potentially go on to independent living within Cork city. Ultimately, pride is a huge issue for those that have served. We have reason to believe that our hostels reaffirm and restores pride,” the ONE CEO concluded.