Storm Ophelia: Co Antrim bar opens its doors to homeless

Robert McClenaghan, duty manager of The Central Bar in Carrick, said he would be in the bar all night
Robert McClenaghan, duty manager of The Central Bar in Carrick, said he would be in the bar all night

A bar in Co Antrim opened its door to homeless people as Storm Ophelia hit the Province.

Robert McClenaghan, who is duty manager of The Central Bar in Carrick, took to Facebook on Monday morning to offer assistance to people living alone and homeless people in the area.

In a post that was extensively shared, he said: “If you live alone and are a little bit apprehensive come down to the bar we will sit it out together.

“If your electric goes out and you need hot water for babies or the kids come down and I will supply tea and coffee free. If you are homeless in the area at this time our doors are open for shelter and heat no questions asked.

“If you get caught in it and can’t get home use us as a safe point we will try and get you home. I will stay all night if need be, but above all be safe, it may amount to nothing but better being prepared.”

Mr McClenaghan, 48, told the News Letter at 5pm: “The bar is busy, it’s been busy all day. Carrick is in lock down, I think we’re the only place open. As yet it doesn’t appear that anyone has taken us up on the offer. But it’s early yet. The storm looks to have hit here and if people’s power goes down, we’re here for them all night.

“There are homeless people in the town – I’m going to head out later and if I see them I’ll shepherd them in and let them know they’ve got somewhere warm to wait it out.”

Mr Clenaghan, who has been manager at the JD Wetherspoons’ owned pub for seven years, added: “I’ve been in this trade since I was 18. It’s not all about making money. It’s about being there for the community in emergencies.

“When we heard the storm was coming we had no idea what the impact would be. It looks nasty enough. You have to be prepared for the worst.”

Companies large and small either did not open at all on Monday or sent their employees home early.

Graeme Black who runs an opticians in Cookstown sent his staff home at lunchtime.

He said: “We have been able to reschedule all our appointments for this afternoon and all our customers have been very understanding.

“These warnings I’m sure are not given lightly and I feel it would be irresponsible to not heed these warnings if there is even the slightest risk to my staff and patients.”