Press Release

A “national scandal that over 10,500 people will spend Christmas with nowhere to call home” – Merchants Quay Ireland responds to latest homeless figures

A “national scandal that over 10,500 people will spend Christmas with nowhere to call home” – Merchants Quay Ireland responds to latest homeless figures

Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI), the national homeless and addiction charity, has today said that it is a “national scandal” that more than 10,500 people are homeless at Christmas.

The latest homeless figures, published today by the Department of Housing, show that in October, 10,514 people were accessing emergency accommodation. This figure represents an overall increase of 117 people on the previous month’s figures. The winter rough sleeper count showed a total of 92 people confirmed as rough sleeping across the Dublin region in Winter 2019, compared to 152 in 2018.

The charity said its Night Café emergency shelter, which is open throughout Christmas, provided more than 2,000 safe nights’ sleep during the Christmas period in 2018 and expects to see similar demand this year.

MQI provides hot meals, showers, and health care for people who are homeless, with around 250 people attending its Open Access Service in Dublin every day.

The loneliness and isolation that accompanies homelessness at Christmas exacerbates many of the challenges faced by people living on the streets, and people presenting to MQI over the Christmas period are some of Ireland’s most vulnerable.

Merchants Quay Ireland CEO Paula Byrne said:

“It is a national scandal that 10,500 people will spend Christmas with nowhere to call home.

“While we welcome the reduction in the number of rough sleepers, and recognise the work done in this regard, there will still be close to 100 people on Ireland’s streets this winter.

“Christmas morning should be a happy, warm time. Yet many people will spend it waking up on the cold and wet streets. That is unacceptable. If 2019 was the year when 10,000 people homeless became the norm in Ireland, 2020 should be the year when we say no more, and finally begin to end the homeless crisis in Ireland.

“Merchants Quay Ireland’s emergency shelter is open right through Christmas. People that come here do so because they often have no contact with their family and no home to call their own. We rely on public support to help us keep people safe and warm this winter.”

Padraig, a Merchants Quay Ireland client said:

“Christmas is tough.  I’ve been homeless for two years, I’ve slept in cars, on streets, and there’s nothing worse than feeling alone. It’s cold, there’s nobody around, nobody to talk to. It used to be me making the Christmas dinner, my family around me. When you’re homeless, all you have is memories that play back in your mind like a film.

“Merchant’s Quay has picked me up and put me back on a level playing field. Nothing will ever make me say that this place isn’t worth every penny that’s donated. If I could give one message to the public, it’d be please help. It could be you out there someday.”

You can help support MQI’s work by going to


For more information or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson or MQI client, please contact:

Tom Sheppard
Communications Co-Ordinator
Merchants Quay Ireland
M: 086 7793 206

Twitter: @MerchantsQuayIR

Notes to the Editor

The Government’s Homeless Report for October 2019 can be accessed here:

About Merchants Quay Ireland

Merchants Quay Ireland is a leading Irish charity working with people who are homeless and in addiction. The organisation provides services ranging from open access crisis intervention and health promotion services to day-support programmes, educational programmes, vocational training, residential treatment, detox and prison counselling.

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