Outpouring of sympathy after death of homeless ‘gentleman’ in Belfast

A homeless man
A homeless man

Messages of sympathy have poured in after a homeless ‘gentleman’ died in Belfast city centre last night.

The man, who was in his 50s and known as ‘Roy’ was found at a shop front on High Street on Wednesday evening.

A new agreement has been reached with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

A new agreement has been reached with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

Paramedics and police were called to the scene and officers erected a cordon around the area.

He is the fourth homeless person to die in recent months.

Donna Connor from Hope Outreach for the Homeless said she and other volunteers from their organisation had known ‘Roy’ who she said was from the Belfast area.

“He died in his usual wee spot on High street in Belfast,” she said. “He was 50 and was a very quiet wee man who was very well educated and didn’t drink.

Sometimes all they want is a hug or a chat and to be treated like a human being

“The only thing he would have taken off us was a cup of tea.”

Mrs Connor said she believed Roy had ended up on the street “because of a relationship breakdown”.

“He had a bit of a chesty cough, but he put it down to a smokers cough,” she added. “He was a real gentleman.

“Our Tuesday our night team were with him. He had stayed in his sleeping bag most of the day so he must not have been feeling well as he was usually out and about during the day.

“Roy had respect for himself and was particular about his appearance. People get the impression the homeless are down and outs but they are not.

“Roy died in the doorway because the parademics worked on him for about 40 minutes and there was nothing they could do for him.”

Mrs Connor said a forum was starting up so volunteers from the different homeless charities can communicate closely “to track their movements and health”.

Mrs Connor said she and other volunteers from homeless organisations “know the homeless and they are like part of our extended family”.

She said: “Sometimes all they want is a hug or a chat and to be treated like a human being.”

Three others have died while living rough in Belfast during the last month - two deaths occurred outdoors and a third at a branch of McDonald’s.

Another person who had a history of homelessness died shortly after being housed.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has confirmed officers are investigating the sudden death of a man in High Street and a post-mortem examination will be carried out.

Charities have called for action to address the growing problem of homelessness. A petition urging Belfast City Council to open up empty buildings has attracted more than 16,000 signatures.

It is expected to be handed to the local authority following a demonstration on Friday.

Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness expressed concern on social media and said he would be raising the issue with other government ministers.

He said on Twitter: “Very sad to hear that a man died on the street in Belfast last night. Important that we discuss this at the Executive in Fermanagh. #concerned.”