There is confusion and dispair about the sudden decision by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to change Newbridge’s Michael Garry House from being a men’s hostel to one for women and children only.
This is being compounded by silence from the Society which has refused to comment on the matter beyond its initial statement which suggested that the decision was taken because the homeless needs in the area had changed.
There is also great anger that Michael Garry House, which was established by locals, is now changing its remit without consulting them.
Tim Gallagher, who was heavily involved in the establishment of Michael Garry House and served as the chair of the management committee for many years, said he couldn’t figure out what the logic or agenda was.
And he claimed that men are now sleeping rough in Newbridge as a result of the decision.
“In all the years we were open, there was never an incident and we had a great rapport in the community in Eyre Street.
“I cannot make any logic of it. Vincent de Paul have chosen not to respond, and that’s very serious.”
Mr. Gallagher was certain that funding was not an issue at the hostel. “There are substantial funds in the accounts of the hostel. And that money belongs to the people of Newbridge, who donated it.”
Describing the move as a “travesty” he couldn’t see another group picking up the cause of homeless men.
Jacinta Carey of Teach Tearmainn, which helps women and children who are victims of domestic abuse ,said she didn’t understand the decision. She explained that there are homeless issues amongst men, amongst women and amongst women and children relating to domestic violence - and that none of these sectors should be in competition against each other.
“Homeless men haven’t suddenly disappeared,” she noted.