The annual tradition of hosting Christmas day dinner for Dublin's homeless was in jeopardy this year, after its usual venue, the RDS, was deemed unsuitable due to transport issues.
With the venue in question, organisers, the Knights of Saint Columbanus, reached out to the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu for help.
Speaking to BreakingNews.ie, councillor Chu said: “It is not that the RDS doesn't want to host; it is that there is no means of transporting people safely, and they cannot get a bus when nothing is running.”
She offered up the Mansion House as a solution and on Christmas day it will be used as the location to serve over 200 people.
The Christmas dinner will have to take place on the grounds of the Mansion House, because inside does not have proper ventilation.
Mayor Chu is also asking Dublin City Council to close off Dawson street as well, so they can put up marquees and make sure that people will be properly sheltered from the conditions.
"We have a garden space here, and we want to bring in heaters as well. We want it to be a comfortable place to eat, we are not going to give them a meal and say 'see you later!'”, she explains.
Under the current HSE guidelines, gatherings of up to 15 people are allowed outside, so on the day pods of 15 people will be allowed on the Mansion House grounds.
Food will be provided by the Knights of Saint Columbanus and they will start serving in the morning and it will run until late afternoon.
As the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Chu says she is well aware of the homeless crisis and how already this year over 40 homeless people have died on the streets of the capital.
On Christmas traditions-annually there is a Christmas dinner for the homeless at RDS. Unfortunately they can't do it there this year due to covid so instead I've offered space here (forecourt & garden) & will be here on the day with the organisers to distribute Christmas dinners.
— Hazel Chu (@hazechu) December 1, 2020
“We have a homeless taskforce that meets weekly now, where previously it was only monthly.
“We are in the middle of preparing a brief for Housing Minister, Darragh O'Brien who we will be meeting next week on December 11th.” she said.
Among the priorities she will bring to the Minister include: mental health services, a day service, a youth homeless strategy as well as support services for those who end up getting accommodation.