Kilkenny councillor hits out at 'organised begging' on city streets

'It was like feeding seagulls', says former Mayor of Kilkenny in speech at council meeting

Sam Matthews

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Sam Matthews

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sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

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File picture: The public and some local councillors have noticed an increase in begging here in recent weeks

A county councillor and former Mayor of Kilkenny has launched a broadside against what he says is ‘organised begging’ taking place in Kilkenny City.

At a meeting on Monday, Cllr Joe Malone said that he had engaged with people apparently sleeping rough or begging. He said in some cases they pretended not to understand him, and have also refused offers of accommodation from the council.

“We have more than just a homeless crisis, we have a begging crisis,” he said.

The Fianna Fail councillor said he had been going around late at night and putting work into this. On one occasion, he said he had been on John Street recently.

“It was like feeding seagulls,” he said.

In some cases, Cllr Malone said he was concerned that children seem to be involved, and he didn’t know where they were from or their background. He said the council should be calling in Tusla, the HSE, the Gardaí and other stakeholders to address the situation.

Cllr Andrew McGuinness also asked if there was an issue with organised groups of people being driven in and dropped off to beg.

The new head of the Good Shepherd Centre confirmed that street begging and homelessness were often confused. He said he was not the appropriate agency to assess whether begging was ‘organised’ or on an orchestrated basis.

A spokesperson from the council’s housing section confirmed that in some such cases, offers of accommodation were being declined.