The homeless crisis is appalling.
According to the Simon Community, there were 6,847 men, women and children in emergency accommodation across the country in October.
During one night in April 2016, there were 171 people without a place to sleep in Dublin City. This is Dublin alone, as the capital is the only area where an official rough sleeper count takes place, making it difficult to get a countrywide rough sleeping picture.
The treatment of homeless people is almost as tragic as the situation itself.
One Irish woman has shared her horror at the way a young homeless man was treated in McDonald’s on O’Connell Street in Dublin.
Alicia Gayson told us that she was asked “to help the homeless and Merry Christmas” by a homeless man named James.
”He was in pain after being assaulted the night before and couldn’t look me in the eye. He was most upset because his phone had been stolen and he had no way to get in contact with the Freephone number tonight to try and get a bed.” Alicia told Her.
Alicia is currently running an appeal, collecting donations to buy McDonald’s vouchers so she withdrew money and invited him for breakfast in the fast food chain.
James was hesitant to go in as he said because he was homeless he would not be allowed in.
Alicia asked for permission to bring him in, which was granted by the doorman and brought him in for food.
James told Alicia that he is 22 years old and living on the streets since his grandmother died 6 years ago.
”She was his guardian since his heroin-addicted mother was incapable of caring sufficiently for his needs.” Alicia explained.
”He had tears pouring down his face the whole time he was talking, I actually had to get him tissues.”
This is when a staff member came over and asked the pair to move because she was told to clean the area.
”I then noticed that she had cordoned off the area behind my seat with two signs.
I told her in no uncertain terms that we would not be moving as we were paying customers and had food to be eaten.”
”After a few minutes there was a manager and the hospitality person standing a short distance away behind me.” Alicia continued.
”I asked the manager was there a problem and she said the area had to be cleaned. The store was empty and was absolutely spotless clean. I told her the only way I was moving was if she fully refunded me the 8.80 for my purchases. With that James got up and left the store.”
Alicia followed James outside where she found him ”yet again crying, this time not from physical pain but from emotional pain and absolute mortification”.
She shared a post on Facebook about the ordeal which has attracted thousands of views and comments. She is challenging McDonald’s to treat people better in this situation.
”I blame YOU McDonald’s for not encouraging your staff to have empathy, love,compassion and kindness towards a fellow HUMAN BEING down on his luck.
I blame YOU for not ensuring that your staff aren’t adequately trained to know that it is the height of ignorance and bad manners to put “caution – cleaning in progress signs” around the seats that contained myself and James (in an almost empty restaurant) as if we had contaminated the area by our mere presence in your restaurant.” She said in the post.
A spokesperson for McDonalds said:
“McDonald’s is a family restaurant with a policy of welcoming all customers, including members of the homeless community. We are aware of a post on social media concerning an alleged incident at our O’Connell Street restaurant and are reviewing CCTV footage to investigate the matter.”