A HOMELESS man has revealed the grim details of what life is like sleeping rough in Dublin.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, 55-year-old John explains the struggles he, and others in his position, face on a daily basis.
He mentions issues with drugs, finding a safe place to sleep and vandals causing him and the hundreds of others all over the Irish capital a number of problems.
"Youngsters tried to set my tents on fire when I was on Dame Street, up near Trinity College,” says John.
"They set boxes on fire outside the tent around one in the morning. Someone told me and I got out and put it out. If I had of been asleep or anything it would have went up."
He then spoke about how he and another homeless man, Darren pitched his tent opposite the Hilton hotel, and when they briefly left them to go to a shop to buy a few things just before Christmas, they returned to find they tents were gone - along with all their belongings and keepsakes including photographs of family members.
They had been removed by Dublin City Council workers.
"They didn’t even ask me to move, like 'can you not put your tent there?',"muses John. "They just took it behind my back and dumped it."
For the homeless, there is the option of staying in hostels around the city, but John explains that pitching a tent is a way of avoiding thieves and drug users who tend to congregate there.
"The hostels didn’t really suit me, as they’re full of young kids and a lot of them are on drugs and there are a lot of robberies in them," he explains.
"You would have to tie anything down or put it in a safe, so I tend to stay away from all that."
A tent, he says, is better than sleeping out in the cold in the street.
Drugs are another major problem, John says, keeping rough sleepers in their own perils and making the streets more dangerous.
"There is a major epidemic of crack in this city.
"It costs €20 for a small bit, which lasts about two minutes. I saw one woman about two months ago having sex in a church with a young fellow for a crack pipe, that’s how bad the epidemic is. It’s a major, dangerous drug and the streets are becoming more dangerous because of it."
John spent Christmas in his tent, away from family, something he deeply regrets.
"I was thinking of my family," he says sadly, wiping away a tear. "But you can’t really blame God for your own predicament; it was drink and drugs that led me to fall into things."
Amid the growing homelessness crisis in Ireland, surely more must be done to help people like John?