Campaigners have dubbed the removal of homeless tents in the Phoenix Park ahead of US president Joe Biden’s visit “a shameful act,” speculating that it was done because the tents are an “eye-sore.”
The tents, which were occupied by at least six people, were removed on Sunday in advance of Biden’s planned visit to Áras an Uachtaráin and President Michael D. Higgins on Thursday. The tent occupants had reportedly been living in the Phoenix Park for up to 3 months.
As a result of the president’s meeting, the Phoenix Park is closed to the public between 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday and 5:00 p.m. on Thursday – including to the park’s homeless occupants – for security reasons.
However, Streetlink Homeless Support CEO Padraig Drummond dubbed the decision “an absolute disgrace,” speculating that it may have been done because the tents would be an “eyesore” during Biden’s visit.
“In my engagement with [the homeless people], they’ve never had any trouble with the Gardaí or the council requesting them to move on until Saturday,” Drummond said.
“We’ve engaged with them on a number of occasions but they’re very independent people, they look after themselves.”
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, a Garda spokesperson said that “statutory agencies” had spoken to the homeless park residents and that three of the six had left voluntarily towards the end of last week.
“The remaining persons removed their own belongings and tents and were further provided with advice and contact information for support agencies and accommodation services and left the area,” the spokesperson said.
Gardaí were reportedly not involved in the removal of the tents.
“The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) and the Dublin Regional Outreach Service will continue to monitor this area, to provide support and offer emergency accommodation to Rough Sleepers looking for assistance,” a spokesperson for Dublin City Council said.