Principal Mary Mother of Hope Senior School in Littlepace, Dublin 15, Enda McGorman
On RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.
Journalist Evelyn O’Rourke reported on homeless children who go to school hungry because the breakfast area at their place of accommodation isn’t open in time for them to eat before leaving for school.
[The most recent Department of Housing figures show that, as of the final week in September, 3,829 children were living in staying in State-funded emergency accommodation across the country]
Ms O’Rourke visited the Mary Mother of Hope Senior School in Littlepace, Dublin 15, and met the school’s principal Enda McGorman who is also a member of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network.
Mr McGorman told Ms O’Rourke:
“It’s a growing concern for me and school principals…One area that we’re really, really worried about is the effect that homelessness and the homeless crisis is having on children in school. The immediate effects that it’s having on school children, it’s really alarming and it’s at a basic level.
“One family that we’re trying to support – their B&B was in town. So to get transport out here, the children had to be on a bus so early that the breakfast bar wasn’t open for them. So they would come to school hungry.
“…And I think one of the other issues for us, it’s so silent, maybe not always here until kids maybe are already homeless and already in a place that they can’t back to school to and then we see absenteeism or we see lateness and we start to query it, where parents are either through fear or shame, forget or don’t wish to share it with us.
“I’m just thinking in the last month, I’ve written three letters for families to say ‘I know this family, they’re a good solid family, please afford them the opportunity to rent your house’.
“Because they’ll go to view a house and there could be 100 families waiting ahead of them. So you never thought you’d be doing that as a school principal, to try and support people who you’ve known and whose children you’ve known…these are some of the realities that we’re dealing with that we never thought we’d be dealing with.
“Another concern we have is homework. And ‘how can I do my homework if I’m lying on the floor?’. One of the families that we’re supporting were living in one of these, it wouldn’t be quite a hotel standard, but it was surrounded by roundabouts, on the periphery of a motorway and even accessing it, getting in and getting out of there, there’s no public transport.
“So the family were literally trapped there. There’s no way those children were going to get to our school. And no prospect of them leaving it either.”
Mr McGorman also said he has often been approached by parents who go to him for help after they’ve received eviction letters.
Listen back in full here