Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan has described some groups that provide tents to the homeless as “mere beacons of virtues that continue to promote and perpetuate poor sleep”.
The city chief, who is set to step down from the top of the state’s largest local authority in 10 months, has criticized the delivery of street homeless services, which they fundamentally disagree with, he said.
Asked about an apparent reduction in the number of tents on the streets, suggesting possible success in solving the problem, he told the Irish Times it was due to the council’s “proactive policy of relocation”.
Those providing tents are not meeting the needs of the homeless and some are “just virtue signalers,” he added.
“The Council does not support the delivery of street services to the homeless, and we fundamentally disagree with these groups — some with good intentions, others just with signs of virtue — who continue to encourage and perpetuate poor sleep,” he said.
The Times reports that while the number of people in Dublin’s homeless shelters continues to rise, the number of homeless people has been relatively stable, with figures released in the week leading up to Christmas showing a 3 per cent drop to 91 in the annual count show people sleeping on the city streets. Only a quarter of them used tents.
“The supply of shelters has exceeded demand most nights and shelters are available to anyone in need of shelter,” Keegan replied.
“In these circumstances where shelters are available, the City Council has no hesitation in removing tents while working extensively with tent occupants to ensure they use these shelters.”
City council staff are working closely with homeless agencies and An Garda Síochána “to keep control of the number of tents,” he stressed.
“The City Council is determined to ensure that Dublin does not follow the example of other cities that have significant tent shelters for the homeless.”
Dublin doesn’t want to become “downtown San Francisco,” he stressed.
The Times notes that Keegan, whose contract as chief executive expires at the end of September 2023, previously caused controversy over the city’s housing and homelessness crisis.
In early 2019 he said the quality of Dublin’s homeless shelter made it an “attractive option” for some people who might not want to leave.
In August 2021, he criticized those who provide tents for the homeless, saying it encourages poor sleep and adding that the “proliferation” of tents adds to perceptions that the city is unsafe.
Later that same year, after students complained to him about the high cost of purpose-built college dormitories, he suggested that they build their own.
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https://www.independent.ie/regionals/dublin/dublin-city-council-chief-executive-owen-keegan-says-groups-that-provide-tents-to-homeless-are-virtue-signallers-42250075.html Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan says groups providing tents to the homeless are “virtue signallers”.