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A homeless man, who had been sleeping rough at the Four Courts in Dublin, has died.
The Lithuanian national, who had been engaging with rough sleeper outreach teams for some time, was found unresponsive at about 8 pm on Monday. He was brought to the nearby Mater hospital where he was pronounced dead. Initial indications are that he may have died as a result of a drug overdose.
He is the second man to have died, sleeping rough, in Dublin this week.
Homelessness charity the Peter McVerry Trust said it was “deeply saddened by the death of two men sleeping rough in Dublin in the past couple of days.
“Unfortunately, there have been an unprecedented number of deaths involving people sleeping rough since late August. The latest two deaths in Dublin bring to seven the number of people sleeping rough that have died in the past 12 weeks,” the charity said in a statement.
It called on the Government to commit to housing every person currently sleeping rough in Dublin by the end of 2018.
“At present we have just over 180 people sleeping rough in Dublin, and while that is the highest number on record, the Government can commit to ring-fencing 180 social housing units for our most vulnerable citizens,” it added.
On Tuesday a man in his 50s and sleeping rough was found unresponsive in Ranelagh. He had been known to outreach workers for a number of years.
He had been sleeping in a tent behind a hedge near the entrance to the prestigious boys’ secondary school Gonzaga College for the past few weeks, according to sources.
A Garda spokeswoman said Dublin Fire Brigade and gardaí from Donnybrook were called to the scene shortly after noon on Tuesday. The death is not being treated as suspicious and a file is being prepared for the coroner.
It is not known whether the man’s death was related to low temperatures between Monday night and Tuesday, which fell to 3 degrees.
Dublin Regional Homeless Executive was aware of the man, who it said had been “periodically engaging with services over a number of years”.
Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, in whose Dublin Bay South constituency the death happened, said the man had been engaging with outreach services for a number of years.
“I want to offer his family my condolences. We are treating this with the utmost seriousness and sensitivity and providing them with every assistance that we can,” he said.
The deaths have led to renewed calls for the opening of the DRHE’s ’cold weather beds’, due to be open by the middle of next month, to be brought forward.
Anthony Flynn, director of the Inner City Helping Homeless organisation, said volunteers with the nightly outreach teams were “under pressure” in recent weeks as the number of rough-sleepers reached record highs.
The latest official rough sleeper count, conducted on November 7th, found 184 people sleeping rough in Dublin - an increase of 30 per cent since a count in April.
“It was harrowing looking at the numbers of rough sleepers last weekend,” said Mr Flynn. “It’s an indictment. There’s been an over-concentration on the fact there may be an election over the weekend. The finger has gone off the pulse in every Government department for the past week. This death should not have happened.”
Conditions in the capital on Tuesday night were near freezing, with temperatures as low as 0.6 degrees Celsius.