A man whose body was found close to his burning tent in Cork city yesterday morning has been identified as Timmy Hourihane.

A murder investigation is under way following the discovery.

Mr Hourihane, originally from Bantry, was a chef who had worked abroad for a number of years before returning to Cork.

It is understood he had been homeless for some time, having failed to get accommodation after a number of attempts.

Passers-by raised the alarm when they saw the man's tent on Mardyke Walk on fire at around 12.45am. 

He was found close by unconscious and later died at Cork University Hospital.

Mr Hourihane's family say they are devastated, and they have asked people to give any assistance they can to gardaí.

In a statement tonight, the family have appealed for privacy, asking for time and space at what they describe as "this most difficult of times".

They said Mr Hourihane's funeral will be strictly private and asked that their privacy be respected and that they be given time to grieve.

They asked the media not to contact them.

They echoed the garda appeal for assistance "to help bring some closure to the matter". They said there would be no further statement or comment from the family.

Detective Superintendent Michael Comyns, from the Serious Crime Unit in the Cork city division, is leading the investigation into Mr Hourihane's death.

Speaking to RTÉ's News at One, he said there were about 18 tents near Mr Hourihane's on Saturday night, and gardaí are in the process of interviewing people who were there.

He is appealing for anyone who may have been staying in nearby guesthouses to contact them, particularly those who are not from Cork and who may not have initially realised that this incident took place near where they were staying.

Mr Comyns also said the post-mortem examination has shown that Mr Hourihane's injuries are consistent with having been assaulted.

He said: "Passers-by saw a tent on fire and called the emergency services, but when they went into the area themselves, they found Mr Hourihane in an unconscious state. "The post-mortem has shown that his injuries are consistent with having been assaulted, and there are no injuries consistent with having been involved in a fire or in burning."

The Director of the Cork Simon Community said everyone involved in homelessness services in the city has been shocked by the murder of Mr Hourihane.

Dermot Kavanagh said that Mr Hourihane occasionally used Simon's services.

He said the homeless situation in Cork had been growing worse over the years and the problem accelerated in the last year (there was a 32% rise in the southwest between August 2018 and 2019).

Mr Kavanagh said it was getting very difficult to provide a bed for everyone who needed one and that services were under huge pressure.

He added that there was a worrying undercurrent of violence for those sleeping rough.

Bernard O'Hare volunteers with the homeless in Cork and has spent time himself sleeping rough.

He told RTÉ's Drivetime that what happened to Mr Hourihane was "scary" and that sleeping rough could be "very intimidating".

He said that those who were staying in tents near Mr Hourihane were fearful and likely will not come forward, although he added that they all want justice for him.

He said Mr Hourihane was well-liked and did not deserve what happened to him.