Concerns are growing for the safety of homeless people as exceptionally cold weather is expected countrywide this week.
With temperatures expected to plummet 10 degrees below normal levels, homeless charities are calling for emergency plans to be put into place.
The country is bracing itself for a week of snow and ice, and Met Eireann has issued a status yellow weather warning for the entire country:
“Exceptionally cold weather will occur this week. Air and ground temperatures will be 5 to 10 degrees below normal, with significant wind chill and penetrating severe frosts. Snow showers, mainly affecting eastern areas on Tuesday, will progressively become more widespread and heavier through midweek, with significant and disruptive accumulations.
Please also consult winterready.ie.”
The Government’s National Emergency Co-ordination Group on severe weather will meet tomorrow morning. It will be chaired by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, who has issued a press release outlining what plans will be put in place to help homeless people:
“In relation to our most vulnerable and in order to ensure that arrangements are in place across the country, so that all homeless individuals and rough sleepers have shelter and accommodation during the forthcoming cold spell, Minister Murphy has requested his Department to make contact with local authorities and a range of homeless agencies, in relation to arrangements for rough sleepers.”
The Minister says Local authorities have now confirmed that they will keep all cold weather initiatives for rough sleepers in place and additional capacity has been put in place to ensure that there are additional bed spaces available for rough sleepers that would not normally avail of homeless services in the main urban areas of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. In Dublin, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive has secured an additional 84 beds and ‘one night only’ beds will remain open on a 24 hour basis. Two outreach teams will be working on the streets to encourage rough sleepers to come into shelter. Members of the public are also being asked to contact their local authority to report any rough sleepers that they have concerns about and any such cases will be followed up. In the Dublin region, members of the public can report cases of concern through the following link; http://www.homelessdublin.ie/report-rough-sleeper#1
Minister Murphy emphasised “Rough sleepers require additional supports and the Government is working hard to implement solutions. Extensive efforts have been made to deliver new accommodation with over 200 new beds provided in the Dublin region towards the end of 2017. The introduction of these additional beds has enabled the State to provide medical supports and the appropriate interventions to individuals, who otherwise would be outside the system and on our streets”.
Irish Water has mobilised its Crisis Management arrangements to deal with operational impacts of the expected severe weather nationwide. Severe weather can result in big demand increases due to additional pipe bursts and additional water use. In particular, Irish Water is advising that the water supply to the Greater Dublin Area is running at full capacity at the moment, with some operational issues impacting production. In order to avoid the need for restrictions, households & businesses are urgently asked to conserve water, refrain from leaving taps running and to report any visible leaks. Unattended premises should be checked for possible burst pipes caused by freezing temperature.