Yesterday, we learned of two more tragic deaths in our capital city. In the early morning, a man in his 40s living in a tent in the shadow of Leinster House was found dead. He had been living there for some time. Later in the afternoon, another man died in accommodation run by a well-known charity. We do not know the full circumstances of these tragic deaths but it is clear that both men were homeless. This brings the number of such deaths reported in Dublin this year to more than 52, which represents a significant increase on the number of deaths of those sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation in 2019. There have also been increases in the number of such deaths reported in the cities of Cork and Galway. I express my condolences to the family and friends of both men. Their deaths are a tragedy.
It would be a mistake to see these deaths as isolated incidents. People experiencing homelessness, who often have acute addiction or mental health needs, are at a greater risk of dying prematurely. The exact causes of death vary. It is sometimes an overdose, suicide or hypothermia or, in rare cases, murder. The interaction of homelessness, mental ill health and addiction dramatically increases the risk of such deaths. Are we doing enough to reduce this risk and prevent such deaths? Is our emergency accommodation system fit for purpose? Are the mental health and addiction supports available to these very vulnerable people adequate? Are we moving people into long-term secure tenancies fast enough? Are we learning lessons from such deaths and improving the supports for vulnerable people in order to reduce the risk of future deaths?
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, announced a review, to be carried out by the HSE and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, DRHE, of the dramatic increase in deaths. I welcome the review but it is not enough. Will the Tánaiste commit to putting in place an immediate emergency response and to increasing supports for those experiencing long-term homelessness with the explicit aim of reversing the rise in the number of deaths among people experiencing homelessness in the coming months?