Northern Ireland news

Homeless man found dead in Belfast city centre

The scene this morning at High Street in Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE body of a homeless man has been found in the doorway of a shop in Belfast city centre.

The man, believed to be aged in his mid-30s, was found dead in a shop front on High Street by workers from the Welcome Organisation this morning.

Police are investigating the circumstances of the death, which happened during a cold night in the city.

Distraught friends of the man gathered at the police cordon as forensic officers examined the tented scene on what is a busy shopping street.

Sandra Moore, chief executive of the Welcome Organisation, said the workers who found the man were very upset.

"Working in this field is challenging at the best of times, but when you have to deal with a situation like this, it's so tragic," she said.

"The workers are shaken. The last thing they expected when they tried to rouse this young man was that he passed over.

"They had known this person, which makes it that bit more traumatic and personal."

Ms Moore said about 80 individuals were known to be rough sleepers in Belfast, with about 25 on the streets at any one time. She said the majority were single young men.

"There is still something not right, this is one of the best cities in terms of homeless services, and being a small city, services work well together, but we obviously still haven't got it right," she said.

In terms of the wider issues, Ms Moore said there was a need for better resourced and more responsive drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, as well as greater efforts to address accommodation shortages.

North Belfast MLA Carál Ní Chuilín said: "No-one should ever have to sleep on the street, particularly in the cold weather.

"But sadly, over recent years, we have seen rising levels of homelessness around the city centre and across the north.

"Homeless charities have been doing great work but it is important that the Housing Executive and statutory bodies continue providing support to people sleeping on the street.

"My thoughts are with this man's family and friends at this difficult time."

PSNI Detective Inspector Kerry Brennan said: “Police attended a report of a sudden death of a man at the High Street area of Belfast this morning.

“A post mortem is due to be carried out to establish the cause of death. Police enquiries are at an early stage and there are no further details at this time.”

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