Anthony Flynn highlights sexual abuse in the homeless sector

Dublin Councillor Anthony Flynn described the widespread sexual abuse in the homeless sector as “disturbing” and "traumatic" – just weeks before he was suspended for allegations of a similar nature. 

Inner City Helping homeless CEO Flynn was found dead in a house in East Wall in North Dublin on Wednesday 18th August. 

The discovery was made after he was suspended from the homeless charity after a number of clients in the service claimed that he had sexually assaulted them. 

Yesterday (Sun) it was reported that gardai are expecting more victims to come forward in the wake of the allegations made against Anthony Flynn. 

However, the Star can reveal, a month before Gardai interviewed Flynn about the allegations, he conducted a long interview outside the Dail about the risks the homeless face from sexual predators. 

On 19th April he launched the “Our Voice, Homelessness Survey, Empowerment to Rights” report which was conducted by BABS Empowerment Project and Inner City Helping Homeless. 

Flynn who was also a Dublin City Councillor said the report was “damning” and highlighted the personal experiences of people “in a traumatic system” who were too afraid to report crimes against them. 

Speaking to FM104 and Q102, he said: “Up to a third of the people that were interviewed from the 100 people, had said they experienced some form of sexual assault within homeless services. A lot of the wording that was used, it’s ‘our voice’ – that’s what we are coming out with, the voices of those, that have been in homeless services or entrapped. 

“A lot of the experiences were traumatic experiences and people feeling they’ve been institutionalised within homeless services and that there was no way out. 

“A lot of the wording around the report is alone, depressed, there’s significant issues in regard to substance misuse and mental health. Our partners BABS are the mental health team that work with us, and we found that many of the individuals that are accessing homeless services don’t enter with mental health problems but do insure whilst they are in homelessness services.   

“The report is damning to say the least, what we need to hear are the voices of the people in the need to hear the services. It is a traumatic system. 

Flynn said a third of the one hundred people interviewed (54%) as part of the survey, said they had experienced sexual abuse within the homeless 

When asked, if the sexual abuse was happening in the services or with family and friends or while living on the streets he said: “It’s a range of whether it would be whilst people were sleeping rough or whilst people were in homeless emergency accommodation. 

He said it was “both men and women”. 

He said a lot of the information that came back in the report “was expected” saying “these are issues that we have seen over the last number of years. 

“These issues are ongoing they have been ongoing; they have been ongoing for a very long period of time within homeless services and we need to review exactly how were managing our homeless service system. 

“Some of the wording in the report looks at the transparency in regard to money spent within homeless services as well….. 

“We haven’t seen an audited report from the Dublin Regional homeless executive in four year, that should be done every four years. 

“But back to the actual voices of the actual individual’s people that are in the report. There is a very high number of people who were interview say they significant mental health issues within service. 

“Many of the individuals have incurred those while in the homeless services. 

The report also found that a high number of people were not reporting the sexual crimes against them. 

Flynn said: “Many of the individuals feel, basically that they won’t be heard and that nobody is listening to them and that there isn’t a proper complaints procedure in regard to reporting. Or even they do report that that report won’t be heard of or won’t be investigated. Many feel that they might lose their bed if they report in regard to whether they report an issue of sexual assault or whether it be an issue with regard to their rights being violated within homeless service systems. 

“We are not doing what we need to be doing with regard to the proper provision service for individual. The NGO sector seems to be getting brushed out (by the private sector).” 

When asked how it was going to be possible to protect people in the vulnerable homeless people who are afraid to report sexual abuse he said “What we need to do is engage better and have proper staff on site, many of the staffing of the units over the last number of years in the private sector haven’t got the proper qualifications in terms of supporting people within those services. Many hotels are just desk staff they are not people who can actually engage with individuals within that level of assault. 

“But with regard to reporting it, we haven’t got the proper means and mechanisms there in place in regard to individuals that are in service, people don’t know their basic human rights, they don’t know what they should be doing or how they should be  reporting, people are feeling they are put into the homeless system and their left in the hostel system and they have no key worker and no care work and nobody to support them while they are there. 

“This report hears the voices of those individuals or 100 of them and gives a real in-depth analysis of what is wrong with that system. We want to use this report for the means of good. 

“We need the DRHE to respond to this, there are systemic failures and that the people in these services feel supported”. 

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