May 7, 2021
Minister O’Brien not taking deaths of people experiencing homelessness seriously – Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on Minister Darragh O’Brien to take swift action and urgently implement an emergency response to the growing crisis of deaths among those experiencing homelessness.

Teachta Ó Broin said:

“Figures indicate that 38 people accessing homeless services have passed away during the first three months of 2021.

“This is already a significant increase in the number of deaths of people sleeping rough and in emergency accommodation compared to 2020.

“I wrote to the Minister at the end of April seeking an update on the publication of the report he promised into the rising number of deaths.

“The Minister’s response was disappointing to say the least and while we await the publication of the reports there are steps the Minister can take immediately that would help those experiencing long term homelessness.

“These steps should include increased funding for mental health and addiction supports, an end to dormitory style emergency accommodation, a dramatic increase in Housing First tenancies, and Adult Safeguarding Reviews to ensure that we learn from past mistakes in the provision of care.”

CRÍOCH/ENDS

Note to Editor:

PQ and response below

* To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the status of the report into the deaths of persons experiencing homelessness.

– Eoin Ó Broin T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 28 April, 2021.

REPLY

There have been a number of deaths, in recent months, of people who had been sleeping rough or accessing homeless services. Each of these deaths is a tragedy and I extend my sympathies to the families concerned.  The deaths of people availing of homeless services are a concern and are being taken very seriously.  It is important that we establish the facts concerning the circumstances involved, and that we base our response on the best knowledge and evidence available.  In order to better understand the issue, two separate pieces of research are being undertaken, each with a different focus.

A review of homeless deaths is being undertaken on behalf of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) and the HSE by Dr. Austin O’Carroll, the Clinical Lead for Covid-19 and Homelessness in Dublin.  This review is due for completion in the coming weeks and aims to analyse the data concerning deaths in homeless services for 2020 to identify learning for homeless and health services that could help tailor the provision of care to homeless people.

While my Department does not collate the data requested, a feasibility study on data collection of homeless deaths nationally is being undertaken by the Health Research Board on behalf of the Department of Health. This is due to be completed by the end of 2021.  The research is applying the methodology used to compile the National Drug Related Deaths Index, which is a census of drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users and those who are alcohol dependent in Ireland. The data collection for 2019 deaths, including deaths among people who were homeless, is reviewing approximately 17,000 files from all Coroner districts.

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