Charity criticises 'beggars' leaflets

Published Wednesday, 19 February 2014
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Leaflets are being distributed by Belfast city centre traders asking people not to give money to 'beggars and street drinkers' - prompting criticism from a homeless charity.

Charity criticises 'beggars' leaflets
Shoppers in Belfast city centre are being given leaflets about 'beggars'. (© Pacemaker)

The Simon Community says it is disappointed by the action being taken in the Castle Street area, close to a homeless shelter, and by the content of the leaflets.

"The use of the language of the leaflet isn't helpful and them using the word 'beggars' is a backward step," Jim Dennison, from the organisation, told UTV.

"I think that the leaflet was probably a reaction to try and deal with an issue. I think the issue could be dealt with in a better way."

However, Belfast City Centre management supported the production of leaflet and are defending their position.

They claim a small group of people in the area have persistently refused help from local charities and that anti-social behaviour has become a problem.

"This small core of 15 people has been prosecuted time and time again and that is not working," Andrew Irvine said.

"We all need to ask ourselves: 'Is giving money to people with alcohol addiction a smart thing to do?'"

I would rather people bought them something to eat or bought them a hot cup of coffee and help both the individual and the businesses.

Andrew Irvine, Belfast City Centre management

Sinn Féin Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir told UTV there is an issue with illegal drinking which affects the traders and needs to be addressed - but that compassion is required to deal with it.

"I don't think it's useful to confuse the issue of illegal street drinking with what is described in this leaflet as begging," he said, adding that such advice may impact on people like Big Issue sellers.

The lord mayor does agree that there is a question of whether giving money to someone on the street who may spend it on alcohol is the right way to help them.

"It may be better to give the money to the Welcome Centre which offers unconditional help to the homeless, or to the Simon Community, or to the Sally Ann," Mr Ó Muilleoir said.

"In relation to those busking or selling the Big issue ... I've given money and people can make their own mind up."

The leaflets being distributed by traders state: "The businesses of the area would kindly ask everyone who uses Castle Street to refrain from giving beggars and on street drinkers money; and to report issues of on street drinking and anti-social behaviour to the police."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
16 Comments
earlwatt in Newtown wrote (193 days ago):
@toron cana why have you brought preachers into this debate? I dont see them mentioned anywhere in this article... It seems you have a personal gripe against them... Do you not see what this country and the world is coming to when you reject Gods word and turn away from Him?
Colleen in Belfast wrote (194 days ago):
So Paul in Belfast Your post tells the story of the whole problem You state that you would need a "Drink too if you were sleeping Rough!" I would have thought the first thing anyone would need would be a "BED"
mark in lisburn wrote (195 days ago):
Paul Campbell couldn't have put it any better myself I'd just like to add those people on our streets need supporting there's many issues that make a good person but to even direct people not to support others who need it most is a vile and disturbing way of treating ur fellow human shame on Belfast a boycott of these shops and court action needs to be taken some of the language used is grossly offensive and certainly illegal is this the message Belfast wants to send out come to Belfast only if you've money or plastic to spend.Shameful Belfast city!!!
patto69 in Belfast wrote (195 days ago):
These people, while unfortunate, are turning Castle St into an open toilet. In fact Belfast city centre has never looked as shabby with loads of boarded up shops and North St, Upper and Lower together with Castle St an absolute embarrassment.
toron cana in belfast wrote (195 days ago):
Jim Dennison should get his act together because that is what the general public call them. and it would be great to get rid of these beggers of our streets ie the drunkerds, druggies, preachers, and the the romanians selling the big issue and other begging that they do. then are city centre and our streets will be a better place again. because im sure im not the only one that is sick of all these beggers and preachers on our streets. and if they cant do that then bring in rules that make it illegal to have housing shelters within the city centre or a mile around it. then that should cut down on the beggers. and bring in rules like in scotland were preachers cannot preach outside in public places and only do it in there church.
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