As the Minister of State, Deputy English, will be aware, unfortunately, another homeless person died in Cork in recent days. This is the second such death in the city. Another lady was found deceased in a tent in September. In the lead-up to Christmas, much of the focus has been on the number of people who are homeless in the Dublin region and I wanted to try to get some sense of what the winter plan for the Cork area will be.
Some of the agencies in Cork are working flat out. Simon is making available an additional 47 spaces, not in bed spaces but by opening up their day care centres for the night-time where people can sleep on floors. Even at that, it is not meeting the demand in the city at present.
Last night I spoke to a number of volunteers who go out every night. We have a number of groups in Cork which do homeless soup runs and they bed down people, and they say that to meet the demand over the coming weeks to ensure that nobody is on the streets of Cork, we need an additional 20 bed spaces opened as a matter of priority.
I do not know what the plan is for the region in the coming weeks and maybe the Minister of State can outline that tonight to us, but there is a lot of anger in Cork today following the death of Kathleen. The reality is she tried to get into a hostel and she was unable to get into one. She was told to come back later when they could see what space was available. The doorway she passed away in is the very same doorway her aunt passed away in seven years ago. This is not a new issue in the city. That family has now been touched by tragedy on two occasions and they have to pick up the pieces again.
Volunteers in Cork want to express the need for additional bed spaces. There is a perception, and a genuine feeling on the ground among the volunteer groups which are working in the area, that much of the focus has been on the Dublin area.
That is understandable in light of the number of people who are homeless in Dublin. However, Cork also has a homelessness problem and is trying to deal with it. I am not criticising anybody in the area. All of those involved are doing their best, including the local authority, the statutory agencies and the volunteer groups, but there are just not enough emergency beds available.
I understand why some people might be turned away from emergency accommodation. They might be too intoxicated or they might be aggressive when they arrive. However, turning them away and making them sleep in doorways is not the answer. Perhaps the Minister will outline what plan there is for the next couple of weeks to ensure that nobody in Cork is obliged to sleep in a doorway.