*A tent belonging to a homeless person in Ennis. Photograph: John Mangan
Clare County Council have defended the use of Ashford Court Hotel to meet the needs of emergency homeless persons and described the system as “very successful” despite growing concerns from residents and elected representatives.
A former resident of the hotel is charged with assault causing harm following the death of a woman at the end of January which has brought the hotel under increased observance.
Clarity on the agreement on the operation of Ashford Court Hotel was requested at the March meeting of the Ennis Municipal District by Cllr Mary Howard (FG).
Rooms are purchased off the private accommodation provider “to meet the needs of emergency homeless persons,” senior executive officer Siobhán McNulty responded. She said there was “considerable demand” for emergency accommodation in Ennis. Ashford Court is staffed 24/7 by Mid-West Simon, she said
A lack of available alternative accommodation for emergency placements prompted the Council to engage Mid-West Simon to provide professional supports “to the provider to meet the needs of those in the service”. Each client in the homeless services has a caseworker assigned to them to assist their exit from the service into secure accommodation, McNulty outlined.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Howard expressed her belief that Ashford Court was not an appropriate site to house emergency homeless individuals. She highlighted that one resident rang her when a fight in the corridor prompted her to lock her and her child into their room. “I didn’t know we were putting homeless men there, I know we have an issue with homelessness. In an ideal scenario we should have no street homeless. Residents felt it was foisted on them. We had a very unfortunate incident in the town which people connect to Ashford Court”.
Locals are concerned over the behaviour and actions, Cllr Mark Nestor (FF) detailed. He urged the Council to improve their communication on the matter. Cllr Ann Norton (IND) agreed, “I am finding communication very difficult in the last few years, there is so much happening in our housing department and we seem to be the last persons to hear about these things”.
Gardaí should be contacted over recurring concerns, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) felt. “It is not the greatest location for emergency accommodation, it is townie people, decent people and to be treated like this is terrible”. “Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) added, “The recent very serious matter has brought it close to home, one person can undo all the positive efforts of the Council”.
Proper planning development must be adhered, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) stated and referenced ongoing concerns at Westbrook House.