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State has badly let down Castlebar rough sleeper, court hears

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APPEAL Cathy McDarby, solicitor.

A man who is sleeping rough in Castlebar has been badly let down by various State services, according to his solicitor.
Cathy McDarby was speaking at last Wednesday’s sitting of Castlebar District Court, and was referring to her client, James Hyland, of no fixed abode, who was charged with assaulting a garda – a charge that was later struck out.
Mr Hyland was not in court, and Ms McDarby said it is very difficult to make contact with him.
She said Mr Hyland is not receiving the right assistance for mental-health issues, as he is homeless. She said consultant psychiatrist Dr John Connolly is willing to see him, but cannot make contact with Hyland, who ‘is falling through the cracks’.
She said she contacted Mayo Mental Health Services, but they would not provide a report, as he is no longer under their care.
She told the court Mr Hyland is sleeping rough in an old disused church in The Grove housing estate in the town.
Inspector Gary Walsh said it was difficult for the Gardaí to deal with Mr Hyland. He said that gardaí respond to calls about Mr Hyland, but when they speak to him, matters often escalated. He said it would be much more suitable if Hyland was able to avail of and use the ‘appropriate services’.
Judge Mary Devins noted that the Gardaí are often asked to play the role of social welfare officer, doctor, psychologist and medic.
Cathy McDarby said ‘This man needs help and [without it] will continue to appear [in court]’.
Judge Devins said Mr Hyland ‘may have opted out of the system entirely’, to which Cathy McDarby responded ‘I’m not sure he has the capacity to do so’.
The charges before the court were struck out due to faulty summonses.

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