Reflecting On Joe Armstrong

In January, Joe Armstrong penned this one-off piece for TPQ. Regrettably Joe died during the night and this piece is reproduced in memory of him.
Joe Armstrong's profile photo, Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and indoor
Joe Armstrong

I See Homeless People by Joe Armstrong

When he can’t sleep, Joe Armstrong takes a drive through Belfast. He comments on the despair and hopelessness that he is witness to on the city’s streets during his early morning drives.

I’m always out and about in the wee hours. I see homeless people on every corner. They are getting younger. Young girls on the street. Heroin is everywhere and there are victims everywhere. There's no help out there for them and its only getting worse.

Young people sleeping in the bushes in McClure St. Addicts waiting on the shop opening which is about a hundred yards from them. People are dying here big time. Only last week a young girl from the Shankill was found dead in a house at the Bull Ring. Her family said that it was the system that failed her. I believe this to be true.

Was out for a wee drive there, just in. Driving up Botanic Ave and there's a tent pitched with a small dog sitting beside it. A young girl in her teens, soaking wet with just a tracksuit top on, walking along Shaftesbury Square with a couple of other young homeless people. A lad lying in a door way on the Dublin Road.

Frightening to see how many young people are on our streets. Why can’t there be at least one of these empty buildings open to shelter these poor people?

Its pissing down outside now. I’m lying listening to the rain from a warm bed and can’t get that tent or young girl out of my head. It just doesn’t feel right to be laying here.

Lord forgive me for ever crying in your face. Some of us just don’t know how lucky we are.

Well, Good morning all. Whatever you may be doing today spare a wee thought for the homeless and may a light shine on your path. God Bless and take care.


  1. Life is so short and vulnerable, had a chat and a laugh with Joe on Monday past at Harry O'Hara's funeral. Joe had an infectious smile on him 24/7 and a deep interest in the republican socialist history of Belfast which made him one of those characters i was always glad to bump into.
    Another good guy lost to the material nature of this world. In his memory i will try to smile more.
    All the best Joe. RIP.

  2. Ciaran,

    he was a character for sure. Had some craic with him over the years and kept in regular touch with him on Facebook.