A heartbreaking image of a young homeless boy eating his dinner out of a cardboard box on the pavement in Dublin has caused widespread outcry on social media.
The picture shows five-year-old Sam eating spaghetti off an open box outside a homeless cafe in the Irish capital, where temperatures plummeted to 4C last night.
The image was shared over nine thousand times Facebook after being posted by the Homeless Street Cafe, a volunteer group which bands together to feed the homeless on Tuesday nights.
Their post reads, "We are home after another incredibly busy night. I’m exhausted, weary and emotional and should (guiltily) go to bed BUT there is an image burnt in all the teams' minds tonight.
"It’s wrong and it’s distressing but this IS happening and it’s only getting worse each week.
“Sam” is 5 and this was him eating a dinner of carbonara tonight on a sheet of cardboard
"Can we really accept this ?"
The image has prompted thousands to reach out with messages of support.
One user wrote: "Saddest picture I‘ve seen in a long time .
"To think this is real life for so many unfortunate people. Well done for been so strong to do what you do and see what you see night after night.
"You and your team are amazing human beings."
The charit confirmed in the comments on their post that the little boy is now in emergency accommodation and attending school.
The team wrote on Facebook: “To confirm "Sam" is in emergency accommodation and attends school. His mother is simply trying to access nutritious home cooked meals for him.
“Most emergency accommodations strictly forbid cooking or food preparation.”
The Homeless Street Cafe is a voluntary group that offers food, toiletries, clothes and other essentials to homeless people in central Dublin every Tuesday.
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Sam's picture has prompted the Fianna Fail party's Darragh O’Brien to criticise the housing minister Eoghan Murphy for his “failed housing plan”.
Mr O'Brien told the Irish Mirror: “I’m not just speaking as a housing spokesperson but as a dad as well. It would break your heart seeing something like that.
“It’s shameful this is where we are at and the reality for over 4,000 kids in this country in emergency accommodation.
“It’s more like what you would have seen in Strumpet City going back to the early 20th century during the lock-out and slums in Dublin.
“This is Dublin, what is supposed to be a wealthy, modern European city and we have a kid eating his dinner off a sheet of cardboard in the street.
“Is that normal for him that this is something he has to do because he’s hungry?”