Byrne: relevant stakeholders input needed in advance of Rough Sleeper Count

Speaking at this week’s Municipal District of Drogheda meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne queried the local authorities’ plans in advance of this year’s annual rough sleeper count.

The previous two years have both returned a count of zero rough sleepers, something that Cllr Byrne was very shocked and vocal about on both occasions, even offering to escort Council officials to people who were sleeping rough within walking distance of the Council offices.

Cllr Byrne had requested after the 2017 count that the Council liaise with the relevant stakeholders in advance. Following up on that request this week she said “Drogheda Homeless Aid, Drogheda Cares for The Homeless and The Red Door, among others, are the NGO’s on the ground on a daily basis, these are the people the Local Authority need to take their lead from on this issue. It won’t serve any purpose for another inaccurate count of zero to be returned.”

Cllr Byrne then called on the Local Authority to “liaise with the Public Representatives in each area in advance of all rough sleeper counts so that they can be aware of the hotspots known to the members and include them on their route.”

Rough Sleepers from last year – yet the count was ZERO

Newly appointed Director of Service’s for Housing, Paddy Donnelly, concurred with Councillor Byrne’s concerns and agreed he would ensure plans be put in place before the upcoming count to engage with all the relevant stakeholders stating that “Louth County Council want to be in a position to offer those sleeping on the streets the particular help that they need at that time” and they “would work with all organisations to ensure an accurate count is returned and that help is given.”

Cllr Joanna Byrne said “an accurate count gives a true picture of the needs and help that is required enabling everyone concerned to provide adequate resources and help those who most need it.”

Cllr Joanna Byrne: Lets Work Together to bring Rough Sleeper Count to Zero

At Monday’s meeting of the Drogheda Municipal District, Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne expressed her shock at the results of this years Rough Sleeper Count.

This count took place unannounced by Louth County Council at 2.30am on Wednesday 15th November in both Dundalk and Drogheda and no persons were found to be sleeping rough.

Following Cllr Byrne raising this issue at the start of the meeting and asking questions regarding the zero count, which sparked wide debate, Senior Executive Officer Aoife Lawlor confirmed to the meeting that she herself had participated in this Rough Sleeper count and she could categorically say that there was not one person sleeping rough on these streets between the hours of 2.30am and 5.30am.

Rough Sleepers in Drogheda earlier this year

Cllr Byrne says ” To be honest I am shocked at this result returning at a count of zero, most people in this room knows of somebody somewhere sleeping rough in this town, a small number of people it may be, but is still a number.

“My understanding of this rough sleeper count taking place in the first place is to get a clear assessment of the problem, understand the magnitude of it, and allow the local authority to make provisions to provide effective and safe accommodation to these people to help deal with the issue.

“A zero count on the night, in my view, does not portray a clear image of the situation.”

Cllr Byrne stressed that whilst she was shocked by the result she did not doubt the merits of it, but made the suggestion that perhaps the local authority should liaise with the public reps in each area in advance of future rough sleeper counts to be aware of the hotspots known to the members and to include them on their route going forward.

“Let us all share our knowledge and work together to try bring that number down from the handful it probably is, to a realistic zero.