Irish Defence Force veterans are to take to the streets of Dublin in tricolour sleeping bags today to highlight the issue of homelessness which some members face when they leave the force.
The demonstration is being organised by The Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel (O.N.E) which supports veterans in coping with issues such as PTSD, disabilities, depression and providing shelter in hostels to those who face sleeping rough when they finish their service.
The campaign aims to raise public awareness as well as raising funds to continue to keep the service up and running.
Ollie O’Connor, CEO of O.N.E. said hundreds of former defence personnel end up on the streets having dedicated themselves to tours in countries including The Congo, Lebanon and Syria.
“Our first homeless hostel opened in direct response to a number of veterans dying on the streets of Dublin,” he said.
“Since then, we’ve helped over 900 homeless veterans from all over Ireland who could have faced the same situation. These Sleeping Flags are bags we never wanted to make, but if we can’t get enough funding, our veterans will end up back on the streets.”
O.N.E. currently provides over 16,000 bed nights every year between Dublin, Letterkenny and Athlone, with 95pc of the veterans they help moving on to permanent housing
“The men and women we’re helping have a special affinity with the Tricolour,” Mr O’Connor said,
“These are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and our next door neighbours who joined the Irish Defence Forces to serve their country.
“When they joined up, they were young fit men and women. They didn’t put up their hands to become homeless veterans,” he added.