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Dr McCarthy slates 'quick fix' for homeless people

12 December 2014

iSTOCK

THE retired Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, the Very Revd Dr Robert MacCarthy, has criticised the Irish government's approach to the problem of homelessness in the country, after the death of a former chorister in a doorway close to the gates of the Dáil.

Dr MacCarthy said on Saturday that the death of Jonathan Corrie, which drew a government pledge to provide beds for all the homeless before Christmas, should prompt Church and State to look beyond the "quick fix" that, he said, would not solve the problem.

Dr MacCarthy, who knew the Corrie family when he was a curate in Mr Corrie's home city of Kilkenny, recalled that, as a teenager, the dead man had attended Kilkenny College, and was a choirboy in St Canice's Cathedral.

He said that Mr Corrie's family had done everything they could to help him and his then partner; but, as with so many homeless people, the reasons for their actions and circumstances were complex, and often went beyond the issue of having a roof over one's head.

"Jonathan had plenty of opportunities to get back on the ladder," Dr MacCarthy said, "but, like so many others, his real needs were not understood. The only real way to deal with people who choose to go that way is to provide a dedicated team of social workers to engage with them."

He said that he did not think the Church of Ireland could have done more, except look after those who were left behind, including Mr Corrie's mother, his partner, and her teenage children.

"In addition," he said, "the Church must lend its voice to press for a sensible, long-term solution . . . in dealing with the problem."

Mr Corrie was cremated on Saturday after a service conducted by the Dean of Kilkenny, the Very Revd Katharine Poulton.

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