Northern Ireland

James McClean pays for rough sleepers to stay in hotel

James McClean playing for the Republic of Ireland Image copyright ALLSPORT/Getty Images
Image caption James McClean's father said his son has become concerned with the number of people sleeping rough in Derry

Republic of Ireland footballer James McClean has paid for four rough sleepers to stay in a hotel in his hometown of Londonderry.

The Stoke City winger and his wife Erin have covered the cost of four rooms in a city centre hotel.

He contacted his family on Sunday, asking them to track down anyone sleeping on the streets.

The footballer is well known in Derry for giving back to the community in which he grew up.

"James text me on Sunday evening out of the blue and asked me to do him a favour," McClean's father Patrick told BBC News NI.

"You never know with James what he will ask."

'Disbelief on faces'

Patrick said his son and a friend had been discussing the numbers of rough sleepers in Derry.

"He wanted to know about the homeless situation back in Derry and I told him there seemed to be a rise in the number of people you can see sleeping rough.

"James said 'I have booked four rooms, can you go and gather whoever needs a bed for a few nights'."

Image copyright Kevin Morrison
Image caption McClean is supporter of the Oxford Bulls, a team of Derry footballers with Down's Syndrome

The McClean family circled the city centre looking for those in need, liaising with those who help care for the city's rough sleepers.

Four people accepted the offer and are staying in the hotel courtesy of the footballer.

"There was absolute shock and disbelief on their faces, they were so pleased that a complete stranger would do this for them," said Patrick.

He said his son's act of kindness would hopefully spark a wider conversation about how to tackle rough sleeping in Derry.

The footballer has covered the cost of meals and accommodation for four nights.

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