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Volunteer calls on Housing Minister to attend soup run after Thomas Boyd’s tragic death

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A volunteer who organised a vigil for a homeless man has called on housing Minister Darragh O’Brien to spend the night on a soup run to see the reality of life on the streets.

Dad-of-six Thomas Boyd Lynch was found dead in a tent on Loftus Street in Dublin by gardai on Monday.

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On Thursday, hundreds turned out at a vigil outside the Dail, organised by Keira Gill from the organisation A Lending Hand.

Read more: Over 9,000 people homeless in Ireland including ‘depressing’ number of children

She said people are dying on the streets “all the time” and wanted to remember Thomas, who she knew, as well as all homeless who died.

She told the Sunday Mirror: “We have a crisis in the homeless sector.

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“These people are coming from situations, whether it’s addiction, trauma, whatever it is, and they’re looking for comfort, security, someone to offer them more than just a bed in a hostel.

“What if you are lumped in with drug addicts and you’re not a drug addict? Or alcoholics and you’re not an alcoholic? That is terrifying for people.

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Dad-of-six Thomas Boyd Lynch

“And if you are like Thomas, a happy-go-lucky fella, and you like to do your own thing, it’s a basic need to want to have a bed in a room.

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“It’s not rocket science, one bed in one room to give that man a bit of space in his forties.

“I just don’t know why we are having this conversation in 2022. Why is more not being done?

“Darragh O’Brien needs to come out with us on a Friday night with no papers and no media, come in your tracksuit and walk around with us.

“I had one girl who saw her father shot in the face and her mother died, and then she died.

“She had no coping skills, nothing was given to her to deal with life. No one was helping her deal with her emotions.

“It is insulting to say someone chooses to live on the streets. No one does. It is insulting hearing that, I am getting this all the time.

“If that’s the case, why am I wasting my time working with these people?

“The situation has never gotten better in the nine years I’ve been doing this and I want the Minister to see this and see what we see.

“I’m trying to empower people into believing in themselves. They are people, they are human, they have abilities that everybody else has but nobody told them they could do it.

“So our plan is to introduce education, introduce employment, introduce skill sets so they can move on from just being a homeless person.”



Family and friends during a vigil for Thomas Boyd

Meanwhile, the latest homeless figures were published on Friday.

They show 9,492 homeless people were accessing emergency accommodation in February, according to the Department of Housing.

It’s an almost four per cent increase from January, when it stood at 9,150.

There are more than 2,600 children in emergency accommodation, according to these figures.

These totals from the Government do not include the number of rough sleepers, those in direct provision, women in refuge centres or Ukrainian refugees in pledged accommodation.

Some 12,000 Ukrainie refugees have also arrived to live in Ireland, and Keira said she had “huge concerns”.

She added: “Where are we going to put them all? I am not comparing a war to homelessness, there is no comparison, but we are in the middle of a crisis in housing, how can we manage this?

“Where are they going to go? That is my main concern for these people.

“We can’t even imagine what they are after seeing in a war-torn country and they are going to come here.

“Are they going to be put in Direct Provision? Are they going to be lumped into a centre like Mosney? That’s no life, I know it’s safer, but it’s no life.

“We have a housing crisis, and we can’t build affordable social housing.

“Nobody can buy houses in my generation, all our lives are on hold, nobody can move on to the next phase of their lives, so where are we going to put these people, that is my only fear.”

In a statement, a Department of Housing spokesperson said: “Addressing homelessness is an absolute priority for this government. Housing for All includes 18 actions to tackle homelessness.

“Minister O’Brien has accompanied the Focus Ireland Outreach team on their nightly runs on a couple of occasions.

“He has also joined SafetyNet, who provide medical assistance to those experiencing homelessness and sleeping rough and he has visited a number of homeless facilities. The Minister prefers not to publicise visits.”

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