From top: The homeless volunteer group in Dublin, You’re Not Alone, distributing items on Tuesday night – the group looked after 263 people before running out of food; acting Environment Minister Alan Kelly at the Custom House this morning
Further to the forum on housing and homelessness in the Custom House this morning…
Acting Environment Minister Alan Kelly spoke to Conor Brophy on RTÉ’s News At One.
Niamh Randall, national spokesperson for the Simon Community, was also interviewed by RTÉ’s Conor Brophy.
Grab a tay.
Alan Kelly: “What’s happening here is actually very useful today. We’ve had a number of presentations from the Housing Agency, from NAMA, from the CIF, from the Homeless Executive and from the people who are in charge of local authority funding and various other areas. You see in order to sort this issue you’ve got a whole load of levers across a whole load of various departments and organisations. And, also, on top of that you’ve got an intricate web of solutions that are required, you know, there’s a spectrum of issues across a whole range of areas here – whether it’s in finance, whether it’s in social services, whether it is in the timeline it takes to actually go and build housing, whether it’s in a whole load of areas, of planning and other areas. They are all inter-connected, there’s one thing I will leave this department, pushing out there. There is no silver bullet. All of these are interconnected and you need to get people into the room to ensure that they get into solution mode, get talking to one another in order to actually sort this out.”
Conor Brophy: “But these sound like learnings from your time as minister and learnings somebody else will have to take on when a new Government is formed. It doesn’t sound like there’s anything there that could be implemented right now or a solution that’s presenting itself in the interregnum.”
Kelly: “Well, I don’t accept that at all. In fact, you know, I was here for 20 months in this department and we got through a huge amount of legislation, a huge amount of changes whether it was in the area of rent, whether it’s in the fact there was €4billion for social housing, whether it’s in dealing with a whole range of other areas when it came to housing. We got through a whole range of 26 very significant actions which I’m not going to recount for you here, we don’t have time, but really what we’re positioning people here is that, I mean, I’m not going to be grandstanding while I’m in opposition,or whoever is going to be in this department later on. What I want to see is solutions. And if people aren’t talking at the level at which they’re talking at inside here, you will not find solutions because whoever is replacing me in this department, and Minister Paudie Coffey in the department will need these people to be talking at the level in which they’re talking. So I believe that, today, is about solutions…”
Niamh Randall: “I think there was probably a bit of a missed opportunity with the forum. It was very presentation heavy. So, at 12.15pm, we were still hearing presentations from a number of different stakeholders and that wasn’t an opportunity for the people who were present, attending the open forum, to take place. So I think that possibly was a bit of a missed opportunity. I think maybe and maybe there is an opportunity to pull people together, to have a facilitated discussion, getting the ideas from the floor and suggestions and ideas from the floor. And secondly, there wasn’t a concrete plan there – certainly while I was present anyway, in terms of what would happen next, so where this will go, particularly when we’re in this vacuum of having a government and in this vacuum of having, we’ve an acting minister. How does all this happen? How do we ensure there’s activity in the meantime? There didn’t seem to be a concrete plan there and I did ask that question from the floor and there wasn’t a clear answer in relation to that. So there was a little sense, I felt, of a lack of urgency around all of this. And I suppose the thing that we really see on the ground, in the Simon Community, is the impact that this is having on people every single day and this is absolutely urgent…”
Randall: “”Critically, one of the voices missing from the panel, I felt, was the Department of Social Protection. They did ask, some representative to speak from the audience, in relation to the issues on rent supplement but that is a key issue in terms of pushing people into homelessness and preventing people from leaving homelessness behind and the fact that that wasn’t represented on the panel really leads me to believe that the analysis may be flawed at some level.”
Listen back in full here
Earlier: ‘I Was Blocked By The Constitution’