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.

Joanna Byrne: Homelessness Is Not Just A Big City Issue

At the September Council meeting of Drogheda Municipal District, Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne queried the monthly homelessness report produced by the local authority.

Joanna Byrne pointed out “that again this month there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people who are presenting as homeless in the Drogheda district, but I don’t find the report accurate and it is not a true reflection of the current homelessness situation in the town.”

Cllr Byrne said “I note that this month there has been a decrease in numbers presenting as homeless in both the Ardee and Dundalk districts and a significant increase in the numbers in Drogheda. But even at that, to be frank, I don’t find this report worth the paper it’s printed on. I can walk you over this town right now and show you several people sleeping in doorways. These are not irregular patterns, they are consistently sleeping in the same places, some of them for months now.”

Homeless in Drogheda

These comments were met with severe opposition from Paddy Donnelly, Director of Services with LCC who refuted the fact that this report wasn’t worth reading and stressed the work that goes into compiling it.

Cllr Byrne came back and said that whilst she meant no disrespect to the staff in the housing department, “the awareness needs to be there that the homeless crisis in Drogheda is much bigger than the local authority’s report portrays, be it down to the fact that maybe some of these people are not presenting themselves to the authority as homeless, or whatever the case may be, but the reality is that this is a growing epidemic and needs to be addressed.


“With the week that is in it and us having three homeless people die nationally, be under no illusion that these are not just big city issues, it won’t be long until a tragedy like that darkens our doors.”