Tag Archives: Homelessness

Last night.

At an undisclosed location in Dublin.

Commissioner for Human Rights of the Republic of Poland Adam Bodnar extols Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy as he poses for a picture with the Fine Gael TD and Zuzanna Rudzińska-Bluszcz, Coordinator of Strategic Court Proceedings in the Office of the Ombudsman in Poland.

MMW?

Anyone?

Meanwhile…

On Monday, the Children Rights’ Alliance released its Report Card 2020. In it, they found:

The lowest grade received in Report Card 2020 is for Child and Family Homelessness for which the Government receives an ‘F’ – or a FAIL.

Children now make up the largest population in homelessness with child homelessness rising by a staggering 400% from 2014 to 2019, but neither the response nor the follow-through on commitments already made by this Government would suggest that anything has changed in the last five years.

The Rapid Build Programme has delivered just 423 homes out of a planned 1,500. The over-reliance on family hubs has resulted in hundreds of families living in what was introduced as a temporary solution for up to, and sometimes over, two years.

What we have witnessed over the last five years has been a grave social injustice and now we face a homelessness crisis that is depriving thousands of children of a childhood.

The next Government must acknowledge this crisis for what it is and commit to build, to legislate and to plan with children and families in mind.

Read the Children’s Rights Alliance report in full here

Previously: 10,271

At a protest against the homeless and housing crisis on Dublin’s O’Connell Street last November

Earlier.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Dr Geraldine Casey, from the HSE’s Department of Public Health in Limerick, spoke to Dr Gavin Jennings about new research she led into the long-term effect of homelessness on children in Limerick.

The most recent figures from the Department of Housing state there were 3,422 children living in homeless accommodation, as of the final week in December 2019.

Dr Casey said:

“The actual physical space that children are growing up in is affecting their development. So, if you think about a child living in a hotel room they can always have their hand to something at all times. So actually they don’t know if a lot of the children can walk independently or not.

“Or a child doesn’t have the chance to walk independently. So they’re seeing that children are delayed in their physical development because of the homeless situation that they’re in and the environment that they’re placed in.

So last year 278 children in Limerick were housed in hotel rooms and another 250 in homeless hubs so it’s a significant number of children and a significant affect on them.”

“This study didn’t specifically look at that [the difference between family hubs and hotels]. We were just, I suppose this was an initial exercise and scoping, asking people what they thought the issues were. But I suppose a hotel room would be seen to be a worse environment than a homeless hub would be because hubs would provide much more space.

“Some of the hubs are actual apartments and other ones are rooms with shared and communal living.”

Dr Casey added:

“Another issue with the physical space is one service provider described a child having to do their homework on the toilet, sitting inside in the en suite because the younger children were asleep and so the lights needed to be turned off in the main room.

“And really I suppose there was a lot of issues with that, with affecting children’s education. So such is the trauma that children are experiencing they find it difficult to engage with education as well as the difficulties with just actually getting to school in the morning, if you’re placed in  hub which is placed far away from where you live [sic].”

“…we know that when children experience trauma in childhood that this will, can have an affect on their physical and mental health into the future.

“…that affect of the homelessness will last into the future and will impact on children’s health.”

“…there is growing research on adverse childhood experiences and homelessness for a young child is a traumatic experience so it absolutely would have affects. There are things that can mitigate those affects such as having strong relationships and having stability and obviously children who are placed in a homeless environment don’t have that stability.

“So we would have to, you know, look into helping them in the future with reducing those effects.”

Listen back in full here

Rollingnews

This afternoon.

Richard Chambers, of Virgin Media One, tweetz:

Taoiseach arrives on Stephen’s Green.

A homeless man looks away.

Familiar sight.

Update

Um.

Mr Varadkar on Grafton Street.

Rollingnews

Previously: Picture Desk! I Need The IMF Guy In Dublin Walking PAST An Old Irish Homeless Man

UPDATE:

Rollingnews

This afternoon.

Grand Canal, Dublin 2.

Via Revolution IRL

Meanwhile…

 

Fine Gael election posters return to Leeson Street Bridge, Dublin 2.

Rollingnews

Earlier…

Um.

Previously: At Leeson Street Bridge (Updated)

On Friday.

A protest against homelessness will be held in Dublin city with supporters meeting at the Garden of Remembrance at 1pm.

The group behind the protest call themselves The People’s Movement.

They write:

“We have an opportunity here and if we don’t take it then it will be another four years before we get this same opportunity again

“Our beautiful island is being run into the ground and our people treated inhumanely by those elected to do right by us.

“Every day they hurt people in some form, wether it’s being made homeless because people can’t afford the rent or from being evicted and people left to die on trolleys.

“Our hospitals are overcrowded and understaffed and not sufficiently equipped. Children are queuing at soup runs to eat and take home packed lunches so they can eat in school the next day, childhood memories tainted by the damp walls of uninhabitable B&Bs and squashed hotel rooms with parents who cry themselves to sleep.

“They are selling our public lands, denying our people social housing and privatising our most vital services, crippling families through extortionate rents and taxes, selling off our gas and oil resources, all while lining their already heavy pockets, the list goes on and on.

“And if I continued to name how much they hurt people you all know that I would be here all day. Haven’t you had enough?”

The People’s Movement (Facebook)

Meanwhile…

This morning Daniel McConnell, of The Irish Examiner, reports:

As many as one in four children in some of the most disadvantaged primary schools in the country are homeless, with principals warning that the real figures could be even higher.

Schools are reporting that the number of children aged between five and 12 presenting as homeless have increased significantly in the past three years.

Rise in pupils without proper homes (Daniel McConnell, The Irish Examiner)

From top: a Fine Gael poster was mistakenly placed near the scene at Leeson Bridge;  Seán O’Rourke discusses housing and homelessness (from left) with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy; People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett; Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Bróin and Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien

This morning.

On RTÉ One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.

Seán O’Rourke spoke to Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy; People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett; Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Bróin and Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien about housing and homelessness.

The five men discussed the incident along the Grand Canal in Dublin at lunchtime on Tuesday in which a man was seriously injured after the tent he was sleeping in was removed by an “industrial vehicle” while he was still in the tent.

During their discussion, the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said he has received a report on the incident but it’s, as yet, not publishable as there are many private details pertaining to the man contained in the report.

Mr Murphy also spoke about how his election poster came to be placed in the area where the incident occurred.

At the beginning of the segment, Mr O’Rourke played a clip of what Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said when he was asked to comment on the incident.

[Mr Varadkar’s comments, in which he called on the Lord Mayor and Fianna Fáil general election candidate Paul McAuliffe to comment, can be read here]

After playing the clip, Mr O’Rourke then put it to Mr Murphy that Mr Varadkar’s comments were “clumsy and insensitive”.

Seán O’Rourke: “Eoghan Murphy, how clumsy and insensitive was that on the part of you party leader An Taoiseach?”

Eoghan Murphy: “Just to say first of all, Seán, I mean this was a shocking incident and an accident that happened. I think the whole country has been very upset by it.

“And I know that all our thoughts are with the person who is in hospital and also with the people who are involved in this accident…”

O’Rourke: “The Taoiseach’s thoughts were on the political point scoring.”

Murphy: “The Taoiseach’s first reaction, when I discussed it with him and when he was discussing it publicly was one of sympathy for the person involved in this. And then this terrible event that happened, this terrible incident. And, you know, from my understanding, what he was referring to was the fact that, yes, the Lord Mayor wanted an investigation done. And yes, Dublin City Council is conducting one.

O’Rourke: “The Lord Mayor has political responsibility for it.”

Murphy: “I think, as Housing Minister, I’m responsible for what happens in relation to housing up and down the country. And local authorities have their responsibilities too. And people know that the responsibility for housing delivery, for example, is shared between my department and…”

O’Rourke: “We were looking for some sort of explanation or comment from both Dublin City Council and Waterways Ireland and what we got were two statements. The first of which came from Dublin Regional Homeless Executive saying that an incident occurred involving a homeless man during a process where Waterways Ireland were removing tents that were placed in a precarious and dangerous location.

“And then Waterways Ireland came back saying the process is an initiated by DHRE with the homeless person and it’s only when that negotiation is complete, an arrangement is made that Waterways Ireland is contacted to remove the temporary accommodation on the canal bank.

“I mean if ever there was a case of blame and buck-passing that surely was it.”

Murphy: “We’re going to get to the bottom of this. It’s not the Government policy to just remove tents like this. But the tents were in a very precarious position and people might have seen some photos now, to see where they were.

“Every person who was in those tents was approached and accommodation was offered because accommodation is available….”

O’Rourke: “Damien English [Fine Gael TD] said, here in this studio two nights ago, that you were expecting to get an initial report yesterday. Did you?”

Murphy: “I did. And with that initial report there are a lot of details that go into the personal circumstances of the individual in question, so it’s not suitable for publication at this point in time. But we’re going to get to the bottom of this and we’re not going to have a blame game…”

O’Rourke: “Leave the personal circumstances aside, that’s perfectly understandable. His privacy has to be respected. But the way the two State agencies went about this business and then effectively started blaming each other.”

Murphy: “Well, so, so whenever this happens, you know, when we’re trying to help someone out of rough sleeping, into emergency accommodation and into a home which is where they really should be and that’s what Housing First is about and we can talk about that a little later.

“When we do that we do that with care and the health and safety of the individual in mind. And two State agencies were working together and an accident occurred. And we need to find out how that accident occurred and why. And I spoke with every city and county manager yesterday, in a regular meeting that I have, and I emphasised the points of taking …”

O’Rourke: “Except in this case, quite patently they weren’t working together because there was a man inside a tent.”

Murphy: “Yeah, but look, let’s just not jump to conclusions until we actually have the investigation complete. We know something went wrong here. We know it shouldn’t have happened. The people who are caught up in this themselves are distraught by it. Our thoughts are, first and foremost, with the person in hospital.

“We will get to the bottom of this but every city and county manager has been told directly by me that this must not happen again and to take every care when they’re looking after people who need our help the most.”

Eoin Ó Bróin: “And this is the second very serious and tragic event affecting a homeless person this week. Obviously there was the death of the young woman in emergency accommodation. I think, let’s take the electoral politics out of this and let’s say this has to be a turning point in terms of how we respond to rough sleeping. And there’s a number of things I think the minister needs to do and to do as quickly as possible.

The practice of Waterways Ireland issuing eviction notices to rough sleepers in tents on the canal has to end and end now.”

O’Rourke: “Ok, minister, just quickly on that point, should it and has it?”

Murphy: “What we’re trying to do is to get everyone into a home. That’s Housing First.”

O’Rourke: “No, no, no. The eviction notices by Waterways Ireland.”

Murphy: “So what would happen in that instance though, those tents, they couldn’t remain there. It wasn’t safe for them.”

Talk over each other

Murphy: “Their care was being put first and foremost when the accident happened.”

Eoin Ó Bróin: “There’s a policy of Waterways Ireland in conjunction with Dublin City Council to issue eviction notices to people in tents. So first of all, that has to end. And the removal of tents and the use of heavy machinery to do that has to end. The second thing is that while it is the case that the individual in question was offered emergency accommodation, there are lots of reasons why people who are very vulnerable find it difficult, if not impossible, to take up that accommodation.

“And [Fr] Peter McVerry is right when he spoke earlier in the week. We have to phase out the use of dormitories. Particularly for people with complex needs or who have other issues going on in their lives. That has to end, that has to be an objective of the next Government.

“And the third thing is Housing First is where you take people out of rough sleeping and low-threshold emergency accommodation, you give them their own home and have wraparound support. The Government had a target in its most recent report of 600 over three years. We need to double that…”

Later

Richard Boyd Barrett: “The circumstances of what happened at the canal are just horrific and shameful and without getting into all the details because I don’t know all the details. I do not understand why a digger was required to remove a tent. Right? A small tent.

“That is beyond explanation.”

Later

O’Rourke:You dodged the question though that I put to you based on what Eoin Ó Broin said earlier about these eviction notices by Waterways Ireland. Should they stop?

Murphy: “I, so, the practice of Waterways Ireland…”

O’Rourke: “It won’t take long now to answer that question.”

Murphy: “Can I just say: the practice of Waterways Ireland in this instance, in relation to the people who were there and why the equipment was used that Richard asks, that will be clear when the investigation is finished. But it wasn’t safe for the people there and that was primary motivation…”

O’Rourke: “It sure as hell wasn’t safe if the man ended up in Vincent’s Hospital with life-changing injuries.”

Murphy: “Hold on, hold on, this is an accident that happened. They were trying and met with each individual who was sleeping there, trying to help them out…”

O’Rourke: “By the way, I mean, would you accept as well Minister, and this is not to make a political point that one of the defining images of this election campaign will be the pictures that were on the front of the Irish Examiner and other papers yesterday of that particular scene and the garda coming along to do the investigation with your picture on a pole overlooking the whole thing, looking for votes. You, as Housing Minister.”

Murphy: “Seán, I think that is a political point. But I think again and, you know, I have volunteers who helped put up my posters. They were postering late at night. The person who was doing it didn’t notice what was happening because they were just focused on doing one thing. And the second that we saw it was there, I had someone take it down and the person who put it up feels very bad about that.

“But, like I mean, this isn’t about Eoghan Murphy and posters in a campaign. This is about a problem we have in this country about people sleeping rough that we can end using Housing First…”

O’Rourke: “Just to go back to that year 2017, the target point, July 2017, where it was to the case that no family or no homeless people would be put into these emergency accommodations. What’s the new target?”

Murphy: “So we have a very difficult situation where we don’t currently have enough homes being built to match demand. And until we get to that point, we’re going to continue to have people who are presenting themselves to emergency accommodation.”

O’Rourke: “So there is no new target?”

Murphy: “Can I just finish this point. At the moment, for every family that presents itself to emergency accommodation, we prevent one from going in immediately. We find them a home…”

O’Rourke: “Ok, it was 2017 what’s the new, is there a new deadline?”

Murphy: “Seán, can I just finish this point because…”

O’Rourke: “Please do.”

Murphy: “Since I’ve been housing minister 11,000 people have exited homelessness which is more than the number in emergency accommodation today. But we still have far more to go. We still have people in hotels and we want to end that. Our focus is on…well, our focus is on building more homes. So it was 10,000 last year. More this year for social housing.”

O’Rourke: “No more hostels…maybe the minister is right, Eoin Ó Broin…”

Murphy: “We’ve less families and children in emergency accommodation today than we had a year ago because we’re building more social housing homes.

Ó Bróin: “First of all I think if you put together credible targets, following consultation with local authorities and the voluntary sector, they work. The problem with the Simon Coveney target of the summer of 2017 was it was just plucked out of a hat.”

“But I think repeatedly the NGO sector, who do sterling work, academics and opposition have been calling on the Government to do a number of things. We have to reduce the flow of families into homelessness in the first place.

“Now some good work is done, I want to acknowledge that. But, for example, the ability of landlords who availed of Section 23 tax breaks to issue vacant possession notices to quit, is still the single largest drivers of families presenting as homelessness. That needs to stop as an emergency measure.

“The second thing is that it’s not that there’s not enough homes being built. It’s the Government is not building enough homes. Nowhere close to what’s required. And Housing First, Eoghan is absolutely right. It was Fianna Fáil who first put Housing First into a homeless policy document in 2008 and they never did anything about it.

“Housing First works for the homeless person and it works for society as a whole and, for the life of me, given that we have between two to three thousand individuals who need this intervention, the Government’s target is only about 600 over three years.

“I welcome every single one of those but it has to be dramatically increased no matter who is in Government after this election.”

More to follow.

Rollingnews

From top: *Sam, a five-year-old homeless boy who was photographed eating from a piece of cardboard in Dublin last October; outreach worker caring for an elderly homeless woman last week; managing director of RTÉ News Jon Williams greeting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at RTÉ yesterday; Mr Varadkar giving an interview on RTÉ’s This Week yesterday

Yesterday.

RTÉ’s  David McCullagh interviewed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on RTÉ Radio One’s This Week.

During the interview, Mr Varadkar said he has decided on a date for the general election but didn’t disclose the date.

They went on to discuss problems in the health service and homelessness.

The Taoiseach, several times, said that problems in both sectors are driving or spurring him on to be better.

He also said that Fine Gael have only had two years to invest in public infrastructure, despite being in Government for the past nine years.

From the interview…

David McCullagh: “Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, what are you thinking now about the election?”

Leo Varadkar: “Well, first of all, good morning and good afternoon, and thanks very much for having me. As you know, it is the responsibility and the duty of the Taoiseach, or it is the prerogative rather of the Taoiseach to request dissolution of the Dáil and that’s a duty I take very seriously.

“I’ve always said that it should only happen when it’s the right time for the country and it’s been my view for a long time now that the right time would be the summer of 2020.

“But I have to acknowledge that circumstances have changed. We have a deal on Brexit. And in many ways that was the big job of this government, our magnus opus, to secure a deal on Brexit.

“We have the institutions up and running in Northern Ireland which the Tánaiste [Simon Coveney] and I have put a huge amount of work into, particularly the Tánaiste and also the arithmetic in the Dáil has changed and that’s the reality of that.

“So I have made a decision but there is some unfinished business to do which I want to get done and also there is some respect and protocol around this and I would like to speak to the Cabinet, to the views of the Opposition.

“So as things stand, the Cabinet will meet on Tuesday [tomorrow] and the Dáil will reconvene on Wednesday.”

McCullagh: “Ok, you have made the decision but you’re not going to tell us?”

Varadkar: “That’s correct.”

McCullagh: “Ok, the Dáil arithmetic, I mean there is a confidence motion down in [Health Minister] Simon Harris for February 15th, February the 5th I should say. Do you accept now that you’re not going to be in a position to win that vote?”

Varadkar: “I haven’t really run the numbers yet? We’ve…”

McCullagh: “Well I have, thankfully. You had the majority of three in the confidence vote on [Housing Minister] Eoghan Murphy. Dara Murphy’s gone, that’s down to two.”

Varadkar: “Uh-huh.”

McCullagh: “Thomas Pringle wasn’t at that vote, he presumably will be at the next vote, that’s down to one. John McGuinness now says, of Fianna Fáil, he’s going to vote against you. That’s down to an even number. And it appears from the newspapers that Noel Grealish is going to at least abstain. That means that you lose that vote unless something changes.”

Varadkar: “Yeah well there is, as you know, division within Fianna Fáil and that obviously is a factor that I’ve to take into account as well. The leader of Fianna Fáil has always said to me that they’ve honoured the confidence and supply agreement to date but it does appear that the division within their own party may make it impossible for them to do that. That’s for them to answer, not for me.”

McCullagh: “When you met Micheál Martin, did you ask him, as you did in the letter you sent him before Christmas, for members of Fianna Fáil to positively vote for the Government in a confidence motion?”

Varadkar: “You know, I didn’t actually, because  he made his views on that very clear publicly before we met so I didn’t feel the need to go through the ritual of it but…”

McCullagh: “Did you ask him for assurances about John McGuinness?”

Varadkar: “I did ask him for an assurance that he would be able to lead and deliver his own party and it seems from the news today that he wouldn’t. Or, at least, if John McGuinness is to be believed, that he wouldn’t be able to do that.”

McCullagh: “Ok.”

Varadkar: “Which is unfortunate because any Taoiseach and any party leader needs to be able to have their own party behind them.”

McCullagh: “Well, indeed. We’ll perhaps discuss that with Micheál Martin next week. But do you accept that if you lose a motion of confidence in one of your ministers, that’s the end of the Government?”

Varadkar: “Legally and constitutionally, that’s actually not the case. The motion would be in the minister and not the Government. But a Taoiseach that can’t appoint their own Cabinet, is a Taoiseach in name only.”

Later

McCullagh: “On the trolley figures, 2019 was the worst year since figures began and the first couple of weeks of this year have been even worse. 760 on trolleys. [Former Health Minister and Progressive Democrats TD] Mary Harney declared a national emergency some years ago when it hit 500.

“And you said in September 2015, if the situation didn’t improve, heads would have to roll. Simon Harris said in January 2017 that under-performing managers would be replaced.

“Voters might form their own opinion of whose heads should roll.”

Varadkar: “I think they will form their opinion but hopefully they will give what we’ve to say some consideration. And I’m acknowledging that what we’ve done in health isn’t enough. We have made some good progress around affordability for example, cutting prescription charges for people, medical cards, for people who don’t, free GP care for kids under six.

“And people over 70, carers, those with profound disabilities, we have a plan to extend that further to all children and other groups too. And also reducing waiting times both for operations and, in fact, waiting times to see a specialist have now been falling for four months in a row.

“But, you know, what we’ve found with health is, it’s not something you can turn around quickly. It’s actually going to take years.”

McCullagh: “Well you’ve been in office for nine years.”

Varadkar: “Yeah, that is true but we haven’t had nine years to invest in health and housing and education. We’ve only had about two years to do that. And that’s because we had to get the economy fixed first. We had to get people back to work, we had to get our public finances in order.

“It’s only in the last two years that we’ve eliminated the budget deficit and I think most fair-minded people will acknowledge that. That there was a job to do first, around getting our economy back on track. We shouldn’t take that for granted. That can be undermined.

“And we can go backwards if we go back to the people who created the mess in the first place. And it’s only in the past two years that we’ve been able to invest in public infrastructure and public services and I’m determined to drive that on over the next five years, if I’m given the opportunity to do so.”

McCullagh: “Before Christmas you were asked if you were ashamed of your record on housing and you said you weren’t. Now people looking at that photo before Christmas of a homeless five-year-old boy eating his dinner off a piece of cardboard on the street, or hearing that an 81-year-old woman was found this week homeless on the streets of Dublin. They might think shame is the only reaction?”

Varadkar: “Well certainly I was very, very concerned to hear that story in the last couple of days about the 80-year-old woman. I did check into it by the way. And the facts were not as they were reported. And in fairness RTÉ has acknowledged that.

She was in her early 60s, has some mental health issues and was discharged to a social care worker with a housing plan. So I’m afraid that was one of those examples where an individual case was put about in the media that actually turned out not to be the case.

“There is a housing plan in place for her and I think that’s the most important thing, that she is being looked after.

“And I want to say to the staff in St James’s Hospital, who felt very hurt by the story, because the implication was that they had somehow allowed an 80-year-old woman out on the streets, that, that you know, that shouldn’t have happened to them, they did their job and did it well.”

McCullagh: “What about the homeless five-year-old boy eating his dinner off a piece of cardboard?

Varadkar:That was shocking, shocking photograph and one that I found very upsetting too. I remember, at the time, we tried to find out who that child was, because we wanted to make sure that he was looked after, that perhaps he could be moved into a family hub or perhaps we could make sure there were no child protection issues.

We still haven’t been able to find that child unfortunately. So, individually, that’s the situation with that particular case.

“But they are very sad stories and they’re stories that drive me on because they remind me of how much more we need to do.”

“And also the positive stories remind me as well. Bear in mind, since I’ve become Taoiseach, the number of new houses built in Ireland has trebled from about 7,000 a year to 20,000 a year…”

McCullagh: “Which is still 14,000 below what the Central Bank says we need every year.”

Varadkar: “Well I actually think we need to get to 40,000 a year, so I think we need more than the Central Bank thinks.”

McCullagh: “When can we hit that?”

Varadkar: “Well having trebled it in the past two-and-a-half years, I think I can double it in the next two-and-a-half years, if I’m given the chance to do so. We haven’t done enough on housing, we can do more. And some of that is working, by the way.

“The fact we built more houses last year than any year, for a decade, is the reason why houses prices are levelling off. And that really matters, particularly when it comes to people who want to buy their first home for the first time.

“And one thing that I always remember, and I’ll never forget it,  is the experience of turning the key in my own door, going into my own apartment,  sitting on my own couch and turning on my own TV.

“And I want home ownership to be a reality for everyone in this country. We’ve made some good progress, both with the Help to Buy scheme and the Rebuilding Ireland home loan and I want to build on that.”

McCullagh: “And yet Taoiseach, with respect, people are listening to this and they’ll know the figures. There are still 10,500 homeless people, there are still 3,752 children without that roof over their head, without that sofa, without that TV that you’re speaking of. And they’re simply saying that this government is not moving fast enough to deal with that problem.”

Varadkar: “And, you know, I share that frustration. A lot of people are frustrated at the pace of progress and I am too. And when I see those figures, and I see them every month, I’m reminded by the work we still have to do and it’s the kind of thing that spurs me on….”

Listen back in full here

‘How did I do?’ Relaxed Taoiseach gives little away, except a broad smile (Jennifer Bray, The Irish Times)


Earlier today.

The Department of Housing released the latest homeless figures which show there were 10,397 people (6,524 adults and 3,873 children) living in emergency accommodation in the final week of September.

This represents an increase of 34 adults and an increase of 25 children compared to the final week of August. 

Read the report in full here

Previously: 10,345

From top: *Sam eating from a cardboard sheet on Grafton Street on Tuesday night; Sinn Féin deputy leader Pearse Doherty; Tánaiste Simon Coveney in the Dáil today

This afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions in Dáil Éireann.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Pearse Doherty raised the picture of a five-year-old boy *Sam (not his real name) eating a pasta dinner given to him by a homeless charity while kneeling on a piece of cardboard on Grafton Street in Dublin on Tuesday night.

Just over two weeks ago, the most recent figures from the Department of Housing showed there were 10,345 people (6,490 adults and 3,848 children) living in emergency accommodation in the final week of August.

The figure represent a decrease of seven adults but an increase of 70 children compared to the figures for the final week of July. 

This afternoon, Mr Doherty addressed Tánaiste Simon Coveney when he said:

“The photograph showed a five-year-old boy eating his dinner off a sheet of cardboard on the ground in this city.

“Sam is the boy in that photograph, he’s five years old. He goes to school like any other child but Sam is homeless.

“Sam and his mum live in emergency accommodation like thousands of other families in this state.

“The Homeless Street Café, the homeless group, who met Sam on Tuesday night, made clear that his mother is trying her best to provide nutritious home-cooked meals for her children

“But, like so many parents of the homeless children of this state, they live in emergency accommodation that strictly forbids them from cooking meals for their children.

“That is Sam’s life, Tánaiste. Without a home, without the comfort and security which should be a right for every children [sic] in this State.

“That’s the life of nearly 4,000 children like Sam that have been condemned to this type of nightmare.

“There is only one place our children should be on a Tuesday night. And that is safely tucked up in their beds, in their home, with their families.

“The moral stain of child homelessness in Ireland is creating a lost generation. Children who are having their childhood stolen from them, right before our eyes.

“Stunting their development, harming their education, exposing them to hardships that no child deserves and that no society should accept.

“Behind the statistics, Tánaiste, the Minister for Housing tries to bamboozle the public with, there is a stark and dark reality of our housing crisis.

“A crisis that your government has manufactured, a crisis that many are profiting from, from the suffering of others.

“We’ve over 10,000 people recorded as homeless at the end of August of this year.

“That’s the seventh month in a row where we have those figures recorded – a 365 per cent increase during a five-year period of unending, uninterrupted, economic growth.

“And these figures don’t even provide the full picture, Tánaiste, they don’t include the women and children living in domestic violence shelters, funded by Tusla, they don’t include the adults and children living in hostels that aren’t funded by Government departments.

“And they don’t include those still living in Direct Provision, despite having secured their leave to remain.

“This is the Republic that you and your government are building. These are the parents and children you’re failing, children like Sam.

“This is not a republic of opportunity that cherishes all of the children of the nation equally.

“It is a national shame.”

More to follow.

Earlier: Dear Sam

Yesterday: ‘Sam’

From top: Graphic showing number of empty homes in rural Ireland; figures from Peter McVerry Trust report on rural homelessness

Homeless charity Peter McVerry Trust has launched a new report on rural homelessness.

From the report:

As of April 2019, there were 40,234 mortgages across Ireland in long-term mortgage arrears (two years or more).

According to information published each year by the Central Bank, rural counties have the highest percentage of mortgages in arrears as a percentage of all mortgages.

This has the potential to impact heavily on rural homelessness given the rates of mortgage distress and repossession

In 2018 financial institutions across Ireland repossessed 1,284 homes.

Peter McVerry Trust tweetz:

Homelessness is impacting small towns across Ireland – not just larger urban areas.

Peter McVerry Trust publishes new report on rural homelessness (Peter McVery Trust)