Independent councillor, Alan Lawes, has said he believes an organised group of professional beggars are targeting Navan.

He told Meath Live, ‘There are professional street beggars out there, it is a relatively new phenomenon and close to Christmas it takes away from those genuinely in need.

‘There are men and women traveling from Dublin to Navan in the morning begging all day and then getting the bus home in the evening

‘How do I know? I have gone over introduced myself as a councillor and asked for their details so as I can help them and they have refused to give them to me, now tell me honestly, if you were genuinely homeless wouldn’t you accept any help you can get.

‘They come into the town by bus spend the day gathering as much funds as they can and take an evening bus back to Dublin.

‘I’d have little doubt some Fagin like character is organising it.’

Meanwhile, Lawes has praised a recent shift in the attitude of local council officials regarding the homeless.

He said, ‘A lot of councils have a policy of only responding to emergency calls after five o clock in case of fire, flood or adverse weather conditions, every other situation is left to be dealt with when the offices open again at nine the next morning.

‘There have been times when you know, you just know, that unless the person is housed there and then they won’t be around the next morning.

‘That rule applies down here in Meath but the council seem to have relaxed it a little as I had three separate occasions in the last week where officials from the local council engaged with me as late as 9.30 pm to get someone into a B&B immediately.

‘Whether they were doing that of their own bat or if it is now policy doesn’t matter to me, it’s a welcome development as it has reduced the numbers sleeping on the streets quite significantly.’