Going To The Mattresses


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Alan Murphy and Kelly Gilsenan in the offices of South Dublin County Council, top, and Anti Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, above, in the Dáil yesterday

Yesterday, during Leaders’ Questions, Anti Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy told the Dáil about homeless Dublin couple, Alan Murphy and Kelly Gilsenan, who camped out at the offices of South Dublin County Council in protest over their accommodation situation.

The council subsequently sought an injunction from the High Court so that the couple could be removed from the offices.

Yesterday, the High Court was told Alan and Kelly had been moved up the local authority housing list.

However South Dublin County Council told the court it wasn’t sure when Kelly and Alan – who has a six-year-old son with asthma – would be housed as there are 8,500 people on its housing list.

From yesterday’s Leaders’ Questions…

Murphy: “Today, a young couple, Alan Murphy and Kelly Gilsenan, are before the High Court. They are not before the court because they committed a heinous crime, but because they are homeless. They are homeless due to the decisions of this Government. The Government has shown the same disregard to people on rent supplement, who are facing massive hikes in rent, as it has shown to lone parents.”

“Alan suffers from serious epilepsy. He was in a coma in Tallaght hospital and had to quit his job. Kelly is now his full-time carer. They are two of the nicest people one could meet. Their previous landlord sold their house so they were forced to move out. Like many others, they did everything they could to find somewhere else to live. However, they simply could not find a landlord who would accept rent supplement or a rent they could afford. As no suitable accommodation was offered by South Dublin County Council, like others they were forced to sleep in a tent. They decided to bring the problem to the council’s door by sleeping in its offices overnight a couple of weeks ago. The council went to the High Court to seek an injunction to force them out of the offices. Is this what we have come to? Does the Tánaiste stand over a situation where councils are going to the High Court to seek injunctions against homeless people because they do not have sufficient emergency accommodation for them?”

“Since a court case a week and a half ago, the couple have been sleeping in a tent in Sean Walsh Memorial Park. They have also stayed in emergency accommodation. The conditions in the emergency accommodation are horrific. In the first place they stayed, the entrance was blocked with rubbish, the mattresses were covered in urine and mould was growing on the windows. In the next place, there was vomit and food on the floor and unwashed mattresses. Alan and Kelly are not criminals. They are simply homeless as a result of decisions made not by them but by others. However, they are treated like criminals. Their situation, as Alan described it to me yesterday, is like an open prison, with curfews, no cooking facilities and no individual freedom. They are not alone. There are 3,000 people in a similar situation, 1,000 of whom are children. The Tánaiste is responsible for a significant part of this problem by refusing to increase the rent supplement caps while also refusing to introduce rent controls. Will she now review this decision?”

“Meanwhile, there is a hole of €18.5 million in Dublin city’s budget for homelessness services. Will the Government give a commitment to fill that hole? Will it investigate the conditions in emergency accommodation and commit itself to improving them? Finally, will the Tánaiste take note of the housing activists who have taken matters in their own hands? They have taken over a hostel owned by Dublin City Council on Bolton Street, which was just left there. They have refurbished it and are opening it to house homeless people. If they can do that with no resources and as volunteers, given the hundreds of empty NAMA properties throughout the State and in south Dublin why cannot the State take the same action to provide emergency accommodation and social and affordable housing?”

Joan Burton: “First, with regard to Alan and Kelly, if the Deputy has been advising them as constituents, I strongly suggest that he ask them to get in touch with the community welfare service in the area. That has been the consistent advice to people in housing difficulties. They should go and talk to the community welfare service, which has complete discretion with regard to the amount of rent that may be paid. At this point, there have been well over 1,000 cases dealt with by the community welfare service. A total of 1,200 cases are in the Dublin local authority areas and 700 to 800 are throughout the rest of the country. I am surprised if the Deputy has been dealing with the case, as I would hope he would advise the couple to contact the community welfare service….”

Couple who occupied council offices moved up housing list (Irish Times)

Previously: Meanwhile On Bolton Street

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Pic: Rollingnews.ie

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63 thoughts on “Going To The Mattresses

  1. Wayne.F

    Paul forgot to mention that the couple in question have all ready, refused accommodation they deemed unsuitable

    1. RobinBoy

      Would you sleep in a piss stained mattress?

      I’d hardly berate the fellow for having some standards.

    2. Drogg

      Yeah because maybe they don’t want to kill their asthmatic child by bringing them to live somewhere unsuitable.

      1. fluffybiscuits

        Hearing a lot of tales of unsuitable accommodation. Some of the areas are completely torn asunder by anti social behaviour. Bruton sold her labour ideals out a long time ago when she put her hand out for Merkels schilling

          1. Don Pidgeoni

            Yes. Smart housing policy prevents what are essentially ghettos being established.

            Look at Paris and the riots – quelle surprise, they had shipped all the immigrants out the suburbs, where they cannot integrate and then wonder why they get anti-social behaviour and massive crime and poverty rates and everything that comes with that.

            Look at studies that show mixed housing (social vs private) creates better communities and reduces division.

          2. Vote Rep #1

            So Joan Bruton caused these ghetto areas? Jesus, is there anything that isn’t her fault these days?

          3. Don Pidgeoni

            Yes, because that is what I said. See the bit up there in my comment where I said Joan Burton?

          4. Vote Rep #1

            Apologies, you joined in a Joan Bruton/government bashing thread so I assumed you were blaming her/them for the problems of the old estates

          5. Don Pidgeoni

            Nah, I’m in the general blame lazy governments who don’t invest in evidence-based policy bashing threads. There are some overlaps though.

        1. DubLoony

          Before local authority houses are let out they are all brought up to proper standards. If the place has been trashed, its cleaned up.
          Might not suit the narrative here though.

          1. Vote Rep #1

            There is quite a difference between local authority houses and rent supplement places though.

    3. Don Pidgeoni

      We don’t know what suitable is for them though do we? They have serious health problems. They may have additional needs beyond that caused by the same health problems.

  2. scottser

    SDCC has rolled out the Housing Assistance Payment in full since January, which for homeless persons is 20% above the rent supplement capped rate. why no mention of this, i wonder?

      1. scottser

        HAP is relevant in this case don – sdcc are the only local authority to have a full roll-out of the programme, so murphy shouldn’t be even talking about rent supplement as it only being paid to existing tenants or those who have yet to apply to the council for housing. HAP will be rolled out to replace rent supplement everywhere by the end of the year. effectively the council pays the full rent and claims back a differential, the equivalent of any social housing tenancy. it’s far more secure for both landlord and tenant, and comes with less stigma than rent supplement.

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          I doubt renaming it and fiddling with payment will encourage people to get over their own stigmatising views of people on housing benefit

          1. scottser

            HAP is part of the council’s budget, not the HSE’s. there’s a visiting support available to ensure tenancies succeed which is not available with the rent supplement initiative. tenancies have to be registered with the prtb and the tenants are signed up to household budget schemes.

            i’d be very critical of housing policy generally, but this one is driven by common sense and is a response to recommendations from NGOs going back years. if it was backed up with real reform of the rental sector it would stand a much better chance of success, but a good start is half the battle.

          2. Don Pidgeoni

            And that’s great that it provides extra support where it might be needed. But my point is, if people on these benefits, of either kind, can’t find places because landlords won’t rent to them because they are on these benefits, that makes finding a new home very difficult, not where the money comes from. I don’t know if the HAP helps with that or not or whether a landlord’s concern will be swayed by the tenant going on a budgeting course.

            I’m not having a go, I just think some of the barriers to housing haven’t been addressed and come up repeatedly in these stories.

          3. scottser

            you’re bang on, 100% right about the lack of reform in the rental sector. to me, renting for profit should be illegal, full stop. if you get a mortgage with the intention of renting out a property, then it should remain a rental for the duration of the mortgage. rent increases should never, ever be determined by ‘the market’, but by inflation. the prtb needs more powers and access to legal services for tenants needs to be made easier and cheaper. my list goes on and on – sorry for the rant..

          4. Vote Rep #1

            “100% right about the lack of reform in the rental sector. to me, renting for profit should be illegal, full stop.”

            While I completely agree that it needs a whole lot of reform, banning renting for profit would hugely reduce the amount of available rental spaces. If landlords can’t make any profit from it, they aren’t going to rent. There needs to be serious rent controls put in place though as we are looking at our 3rd rent increase in as many years soon, which I’m not sure we can afford.

          5. Don Pidgeoni

            “If landlords can’t make any profit from it, they aren’t going to rent. ”

            Really? They would just sit on it and pay the mortgage themselves? I doubt that. If anything, it would free up housing stock.

          6. scottser

            the profit from renting a property out, is that at the end of the mortgage term you own the property. that aside, the mechanics of leasing should be left to the professionals – either the local authority or a professional voluntary housing agency. there are way too many accidental and shyster landlords operating in the market and there are no incentives to bring them into line; being a landlord should be a professional occupation.

            i’m ranting again..

          7. Vote Rep #1

            Possibly but why would they take out the mortgage in the first place? It wouldn’t be a good investment if you weren’t getting any return from it. You would still get people who need their current mortgage paid for sure. I am mainly basing this on the government cutting rent supplement while rents increased causing there to be both a massive shortage of places accepting rent supplement and those places that do to be vaguely decent. Changing the way that rents can fluctuate (up) like crazy would be a better solution. Sorting out the crazy prices of houses/apartments in general would also help.

          8. scottser

            rep, if you want to own a property for rent that’s great but you should be bound by contract that the property is only to be a rental. the property is given to professionals to lease. at the end of the term, you own the property and for that 20-odd years the tenants have security of tenure. a system like this would not allow such massive deviations and fluctuations in rental prices, or indeed house prices.

            housing is just too important to be left to chancers and non-professionals. without a stable housing market there is no way to effectively plan an economy in my view.

  3. Fergus the magic postman

    She’s a total waste of space that a Bruton one.

    Never one to acknowledge the humanity required in a situation, instead crowbarring in self endorsements & patting herself on the back.

  4. Digs

    State of Simon Harris sitting beside Joan. I’d love to smash his teeth in, risible little s#*t.

  5. Mister Mister

    They were renting privately until it was sold. Out of interest, why not go rent somewhere else privately ?

      1. Mister Mister

        How did they manage previously ? And how do a lot of other people do it without having to sleep in county council offices ?

        1. Fergus the magic postman

          “Like many others, they did everything they could to find somewhere else to live. However, they simply could not find a landlord who would accept rent supplement or a rent they could afford.”
          Many people manage, yes… but just like the fact that many people are doing very very well for themselves, and the fact that many people are very happy with things staying just the way they are, there are also many people who are otherwise, & they should not be dismissed, & brushed aside as though they are not important enough to cost anyone a second thought.
          You really do have what it takes to be a member of this government (if you’re not already a member). You should look into it (if you’re not already looking into it).

          1. Rob_G

            Indeed, perhaps they should be.

            But until they become cheaper, perhaps the family should consider looking further afield to find something more reasonable.

            A lot of people would like to rent privately or buy a place in South County Dublin, but can’t afford it, and thus have to look elsewhere; perhaps the Gilsenan’s should consider this, too.

          2. Don Pidgeoni

            Perhaps. Perhaps it is more complicated. Perhaps we should all work towards this instead of blaming each other.

          3. scottser

            on rob g’s point above – moving to another jurisdiction and changing schools, gp, work, college whatever is not an easy thing to do, especially with kids.

          4. scottser

            rob g, i know it happens, but it shouldn’t. with a little forward thinking and some cajones from our housing ministers we could see the end of the 12 month lease for those who want to put down roots or continue to live where they grew up or where their families and friends live. constant disruption and moving due to insecurity of tenure should have been distant memory 30 years ago.

          5. Mister Mister

            You can’t really expect to put down roots in accommodation rented out by a private individual though.

          6. Jake38

            Excellent idea. I’d like to live in Fitzwilliam Square. Can you please get the rents lowered for me?

          7. Dόn Pídgéόní


            Sure, here’s what we do. We get the poor people right, and then we, you’re gonna love this, we sell them, right, to like, I don’t know, the Arabs or the Chinese. They have heaps of money, all oil and environmental degradation and cheap Apple products and all that. And they need people to work in all them places. And then, we use that live wherever we want! Bish, bash, if Bob’s not your uncle, he’s your aunty. K?

          8. scottser

            mister mister, no you can’t expect to put down roots now with the mechanisms that are in place but you should be able to and it’s achievable.

    1. Miko

      Possibly because rent has gone up. Solution there is to move somewhere you can afford rent but that seems out of the question in this country…

  6. Jake38

    Remind me again why it’s the taxpayers responsibility to find accomodation for these apparently healthy young people. If they can procreate, they can work.;

    1. Mani

      Good man Jake 38, not afraid to speak your mind nor reveal your IQ number. Perhaps these poor fools don’t possess the precognitive abilities that ‘norms’ like you and I have and weren’t aware that they’d have a kid with asthma, nor that his epilepsy would lead to this in the first place! Ha! The big eejits!

    2. Don Pidgeoni

      Yeah, I mean if they get sick or something after they have kids, they can just put them back in their vagina for safe keeping!! That’s what we are doing with little Chloe, just until there is a place available at Alexandra College

    1. Don Pidgeoni

      So it’s covered in p***, sh*** and mould and their kid has asthma which is triggered by damp housing? Sounds way better than their tent!!

      1. Gers

        Like someone said on another comment they had some means in the past to pay the rent, cant they spend a little bit and get a second hand mattress, new sheets and bit of paint to make the place look and be more decent? Not their job to do you might say but would show a little effort to want to get sorted by yourself instead of this “give me give me” attitude.

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          I don’t know their financial situation so maybe not. But given that this is supposed to be emergency accommodation ie you stay the bare minimum until you find somewhere, you think that it would be clean no?

          1. scottser

            it should be up to standard, and those units are supposed to be inspected regularly.

        1. Dόn Pídgéόní

          I don’t know their financial situation so maybe not. But given that this is supposed to be emergency accommodation ie you stay the bare minimum until you find somewhere, you think that it would be clean no?

    2. Clampers Outside!

      That’s temporary accommodation in that link where you’ll bed down in a room with a bunch of different people almost every night… sleep with one eye open stuff.

      Not everyone has family, or friends, as alien the concept may sound. There are lots of people like that.

      Regarding the tone, I don’t think she spoke with any ‘entitlement’ attitude… I hope you’re not mixing up accent with tone.
      If there is a tone to pick up on, it may be down to the fact that they’re losing hope at this stage… both had jobs before Alan got sick.

  7. Iseult

    You don’t want to play Russian roulette on dodgy accommodation with an asthmatic small child…heaven forbid he has an attack and is berated for being an A&E trolley blocker by the “pulled meself up by me bootstraps” contingent

  8. Maa

    First – this couple aren’t constituents of Murphys, they lived in Clondalkin which is Mid West and not South West.

    Second – this couple knew for months that the house was being sold and did nothing, didn’t contact the authorities, threshold..any of those groups that could have helped them.

    Third – it’s all a ploy to get bumped up the housing list and to be seen as special…sorry but I am now cynical of anyone who has the AAA helping them as there is ALWAYS another side. How many places(as in houses) have this couple been offered but they’ve refused because it’s not in the area they want. We saw it with that Coyne couple last year…turns out the council’s offered them 4 places to live but they weren’t in Dublin so they rejected them.

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