“Our thoughts are with the individual who was involved,” Waterways Ireland said, adding that it would not comment further because the investigation was ongoing. The Irish Times reported that the vehicle involved in the incident had a “mechanical arm and claw,” which was used to place the tents into a truck. In a statement Wednesday, police said the man remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition.
In statements posted on Twitter, Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH), a volunteer-based homeless advocacy organization in Dublin, condemned the circumstances that caused the man to be hurt and described the incident as “beyond disgusting.”
ICHH spokesman Brian McLoughlin named Waterways Ireland and the Dublin City Council as culpable in the incident, which he said caused the victim “life-changing” injuries.
“The man remains in hospital where he has suffered life-changing injuries from the machine used to remove his tent as he slept,” McLoughlin told CNN. “We cannot understand how someone could remove a tent, the man’s home with all of his belongings, without first checking if anyone or anything was inside the tent.”
Are you joking @waterwaysirelan ?? We have heard of tents being removed with people's worldly belongings taken and now we have a man seriously injured because no one checked the tent before taking it?— ICHHDUBLIN (@ICHHDUBLIN) January 15, 2020
Absolutely disgusting to treat Human beings like this https://t.co/S2YZa3CH5X
The Dublin City Council reiterated in a statement that the tents involved in Tuesday’s cleanup were in a “precarious and dangerous location.”
“The Dublin Regional Homeless Executive is currently liaising with the hospital and every support is being provided,” the council wrote. “Our thoughts are with the man at this time.”
McLoughlin said the mounting problems faced by the homeless in Dublin are exacerbated by the city’s limited public services. More than 10,448 people in the country rely on emergency homeless services, according to the advocacy organization Focus Ireland, citing government data from November. The vast majority of those cases are in Dublin.
Homeless people in the country, McLoughlin said, are regularly referred to “one-night-only” hostels, which order them to leave by 7 a.m. the next day. These hostels are generally unsafe and lack security, he added — meaning those lacking a permanent place to stay generally feel more comfortable sleeping outside in tents.
The concerns raised by McLoughlin largely mirror the experiences of homeless people in the United States, including in Washington, where threats of violence, lax safety precautions and limited services in shelters have fostered environments of fear and isolation. The removal of tents under a D.C. bypass last week horrified local advocates. City officials said the tents presented a dangerous obstacle for passersby.
“People are drawn to these encampments for very logical reasons,” Brian Carome, executive director of Street Sense Media, a newspaper and media organization in the District that advocates for the homeless, told The Washington Post. “They find living in a shelter intolerable and unhealthy.”
In Dublin, the man’s injury Tuesday has sparked at least four investigations, according to the Irish Times.
“Every action that is taken by state services is taken in the interest of health and safety of those individuals experiencing homelessness,” the Dublin City Council wrote in its statement, adding that police are investigating the matter.
“There will be no further comment,” it added.