Tag Archives: Sabrina McMahon


Screengrab of The Irish Times story on April 25, 2014, about Sabrina McMahon and her children

You may recall the story of Sabrina McMahon and her three children who spent a week living in her car in Tallaght last month.

Ms McMahon said she has been on the South Dublin Council’s housing waiting list for more than a year and she said that, while she has tried to to find private rented accommodation, she hasn’t been able to find a landlord who’ll accept rent allowance.

After her story emerged someone, who didn’t wish to be named, paid for her and her children to stay in a hotel for a month.

It later emerged that she had been living in a house in Athy, Co. Kildare but left after her and her partner broke up and the house had been vandalised.

Ms McMahon spoke with Niall Boylan on Classic Hits 4FM today and said she will be returning to her car next Friday, May 23, unless she finds alternative accommodation by then.

From the interview:

Niall Boylan: “How did you find yourself in this position in the first place?”

Sabrina McMahon: “It would be nine and a half years ago that I’m back in Dublin. I was in Athy for seven years, the house was broken into. I have all the paperwork, the paperwork from Guards, the pictures that the house had been taken over by junkies.”

Boylan: “What do you say to the newspapers that say that wasn’t the truth at all? That there was no burglary, that the house seemed to be fine…what do you say to that?”

McMahon: “I hadn’t even spoken to that paper. They came up and took a photo of the house and it looks perfect… Cllr Maire Devine, who has been dealing with me for the past two and a half years is trying to fight my case, she kept the paperwork for me and all the photographs, heroin that had been used beside my bed, the kids drawers that had been upended and all, the whole house was taken over. I had to climb over a window when I was made go up and collect my payments for a couple of months.”

Boylan: “Could the guards not get these people out of your house?”

McMahon: “No, they were just going in and out of the house as far as I know…the door was locked but they were able to get in to a little back window that was in the back of the house. I don’t know how they were doing it.”

Boylan: “When you went back to Tallaght, what was your situation then?”

McMahon: “I was staying in my mother’s; my father’s my sister’s, my friend’s…all over the place. And now next week were moving out of the hotel, even though the room is going to be free. I can’t see why they can’t put us up in that room when it’s going to be left vacant. I don’t know why they can’t continue paying for the room. There are 37 families down there in that hotel.”

Boylan: “You’ve been on the housing list for the past year or so and your problem is not that you can’t get a house in Dublin… but you want a house in Tallaght.”

McMahon:“[The council] told me to look for a one or two-bedroom anywhere. I’ve gone down to Inchicore, everywhere, somewhere I can get my kids to school in Tallaght cause that’s where they go to school…not one of them will take four people and they said they’d be over-crowded.”

Boylan: “You’ve told us if you don’t get something by next Friday you’re going to start living in your car again…”

McMahon: “That’s basically what I’m going to do.”

Boylan: “The criticism here is you have three young children. How are these kids going to go to school, how are they being fed, how are they being looked after when there is an option there of going back to Kildare…but that’s what you don’t want to do.”

McMahon: “Not after the house being broken into. I feel threatened down in Kildare, I’m isolated down in Kildare… the garda actually told me not to go back to the house, that they would try and catch the people and they never caught them…they had the backdoor key and they had barred me out of the front door.”

Boylan: “The other suggestion in the paper at the time was you had said your partner walked out on you, the papers suggested your partner had gone to jail.”

McMahon: “The paper said the right name but he was not a settled traveller, he didn’t do any bank robbery…no he wasn’t in jail… it was a totally different person they were talking about.”

Boylan: “Why Tallaght?”

McMahon: “Basically I’m 36 years old and I was born and raised in Tallaght.”

Boylan: “Could your family not help you in the interim?”

McMahon: “If I go back to any of my family I’m going to be put on their rent and I’m never going to be housed.”

Boylan: “What you want the council to do now is put you on the homeless list, not on the housing list?”

McMahon: “Yes, we’d probably be put in a hostel. Many families have to do that… I don’t get along with my family and at this stage, with three small kids. If there was anyone out there who would take me and my three small kids I’d gladly go with them.”

Boylan: “Would you not rather go back to the house and try and make a home out of it just until you get it sorted rather than having three very young children living in a car?”

McMahon: “Definitely not. The house was broken into. If you seen the pictures that I have you’d understand… my son would not go back to the house.”

Boylan: “But what do your kids think about living in a car?”

McMahon: “They’re happy with their mother. They have me and that’s all they’ll ever have for the rest of their lives… me.”

Listen to the interview in full here

Previously: Children On Board

‘A Litany Of People In The Same Position’

LPight[Screengrab of today’s Irish Times’ story about Sabrina McMahon and her children]


Sabrina McMahon, who says she was forced to sleep in her car with her three children last week, spoke to Niall Boylan on 4FM earlier today and their discussion shed more light on her predicament.

It came after a ‘good samaritan’, who wishes not to be named, came forward and paid for Sabrina, a former dental nurse and carer, and her children to stay in Bewley’s Hotel for the next four weeks.

Niall Boylan: “How old are your kids by the way?”

Sabrina McMahon: “I’ve a five-year-old, Karl, he’s a boy, and then I have a three-year-old, she’s only gone three since January, and I’ve an 18-month-old girl as well.”

Boylan: “God, your hands are full, certainly. Give us a little background if you can, Sabrina, and how you ended up in this situation in the first place. You were originally living in Kildare weren’t you.”

McMahon: “I’m from Dublin all my life and I’ve up to Kildare, if would have been nine and a half years ago now but after, nine, after, it would have been seven years, seven and a half years, my boyfriend had walked out on us, so I decided to come to Dublin just for a Christmas, for the kids.”

Boylan: “Yeah.”

McMahon: “To my father’s, and when we went back up to Athy, junkies had taken over the house. They had smashed up the whole house and totally, totally ruined the house.”

Boylan: “OK, this was the house that you were renting at the time was it? Yeah?

McMahon: “Yeah.”

Boylan: “OK. So were you getting rent allowance then from…”

McMahon: “No, sorry, I wasn’t renting the house, I was supposed to be buying it.”

Boylan: “Right, OK.”

McMahon: “Then seven years later, after me coming back down to Dublin for the Christmas, when I went back up, after the house had been vandalised and everything, I had rang the bank and I told them I wasn’t going to stay there and..”

Boylan: “OK, so who was paying for the house at that time that you were living in it?”

McMahon: “I was. I thought I was paying, like I paid a solicitor, in 2005, 2,900 pound, thinking that I was going to be paying a mortgage. I got a piece of paper off him, I thought that was the deeds of the house and then seven years later, when I phoned back up – after the people had wrecked the house – I was told that the house, I’d never signed any deeds to the house.”

Boylan: “But who was paying for it, for the seven years? I’m just curious, nobody was paying for it for the seven years? And you were fooled into thinking you were eventually going to be allowed to buy it?”

McMahon: “Yeah, yeah, it was me who was paying for it.”

Boylan: “All right, OK, so you were paying a kind of rent every week then obviously, or every month?”

McMahon: “A mortgage it was.”

Boylan: “A mortgage. Right. Ok. And you were working at the time then, were you?”

McMahon: “Yeah, yeah.”

Boylan: “All right, OK. So what happened then, your relationship broke up?”

McMahon: “The relationship. Well it wasn’t that it broke up, he walked out on us.”

Boylan: “Right. OK. And kind of left you high and dry. So you were left in a situation. Now you’d already been on the council list [housing waiting list]. How long have you been on the council list now?”

McMahon: “I’m on the council list over a year now.”

Boylan: “Over a year. OK. And in the interim have they offered to give you a rent allowance to get you to rent somewhere in the meantime?”

McMahon: “They have, and even the council have said themselves that there’s nowhere accepting rent allowance. No landlord will accept rent allowance.”

Boylan: “Yeah, they are landlords who’ll refuse to accept it for whatever reasons. Yeah, they have different reasons for refusing people on rent allowance, I don’t know why they do that. It’s kind of a bit of snobbery I think more than anything else.”

McMahon: “I know, yeah. It’s terrible.”

Boylan: “So you haven’t been able to find somewhere in Dublin though, so it’s not the case the council wouldn’t give you the money. It’s just you haven’t been able to find somewhere to live?”

McMahon: “Haven’t been able to find anywhere to live, no.”

Boylan: “OK, well, you see, because the story kind of makes out in the paper that, you know, you’re being left homeless but it’s just a case of not being able to find somewhere, is it?”

McMahon: “Well, the homeless unit will not, they have told me to go back, the homeless unit in Tallaght have told me to go back to Athy because I lived there two and a half years ago, that was my last permanent address.”

Boylan: “Yeah.”

McMahon: “I’d to go back up there, onto the homeless, up there, try get a house up there, reschool my kids, my three-year-old child, she needs speech therapy, I’ve been waiting a year and a half for that, and she’s due that next month, and they told me I’d have to get all that done back up in Athy. I’m isolated up there…”

Boylan: “Because like everybody else, you have to go onto the list, the council list now is something live seven to eight years, depending I suppose on your circumstance and, like everybody else, you have to go onto that list I suppose.”

McMahon: “Yeah.”

Boylan: “So what are you hoping to get? Are you hoping that the council will kind of bump you up the list a little bit and will give you something in Dublin, in Tallaght is it?”

McMahon: “I don’t know what’s going to happen from here, you know? I haven’t got a clue what’s going to happen.”

Boylan: “But why were you sleeping in the car? When there was an opportunity I suppose, when you had the rent allowance, if you needed to go back to Kildare, you have relations here, your parents are here and your sister I think lives here as well.”

McMahon: “Nobody is allowed let anyone stay in their house. The council has even told me that, that I shouldn’t have been staying in anyone’s house at the start, that if you stay in anyone’s house, they’re going to be charged for rent.”

Boylan: “Oh, right. OK.”

McMahon: “If you have another person staying in the house.”

Boylan: “Oh right because they’re on rent allowance as well at the time, is it?”

McMahon: “Yeah.”

Boylan: “Oh right, OK. So if they have you, you’re technically a lodger, so they should be charging you.”

McMahon: “OK, all right. Well it’s all jumping through loopholes.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: A Litany Of People In The Same Position

[Screengrab of today’s Irish Times about Sabrina McMahon and her children]

You may have read Kitty Holland’s story in the Irish Times this morning about Sabrina McMahon and her three children who have spent a week living in her car in Tallaght.

Ms McMahon has been on the South Dublin Council’s housing waiting list for more than a year and she said that, while she has tried to to find private rented accommodation, she hasn’t been able to find a landlord who’ll accept rent allowance.

In the Dáil on April 16, Independent TD Catherine Murphy voiced her concerns about a similar situation, saying:

Those from the Simon Community indicated that the problem in respect of housing has reached crisis levels. It is no longer just people who have – I hate to use this word – traditionally been considered homeless who have nowhere to go. In that context, I am aware of increasing numbers of families, particularly those with children, who are being made homeless. The representatives from both organisations indicated that the crisis to which I refer is on the verge of becoming a disaster. I do not know what we have to do to get the media to pay attention to what is happening to a significant number of people. I met a family last week – I deal with such families every week – who slept in a car with their child. They approached the local authority and asked what they should do the following night and they were told to find a relative or friend with whom they could stay. The family in question has been homeless for eight weeks. I could give a litany of people who are in the same position. The Minister and the Government are in denial.

Figures from the Department of the Environment last December show there are almost 90,000 families waiting for social housing.

Further to this, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore was asked by reporters about the issues facing Ireland’s private rental sector with his comments broadcast on RTÉ News At One.

He said:

“Well the Government is addressing it. You are right: there is a very serious housing problem and it’s particularly impacting people who are in the private rental sector. We’ve taken a number of initiatives already this year. For the first time since the beginning of the recession we have recommenced a public housing programme, we’ve made provision for that, in last year’s Budget. Just last week we launched a new initiative to get back into circulation those dwellings that are boarded up. I think one of them was frustrating things for somebody who’s on a housing list is to be looking at a boarded-up house which has been there for months and sometimes more, for years. And I think Jan O’Sullivan last week made €15million available to local authorities to speed up the reallocation of boarded-up dwellings. There’s almost 1,000 of them that can be put back into circulation very quickly which would address the problem. We’re also addressing it in the context of the construction strategy that the Government is working on.”

Mother and her three young children forced to live in car (Kitty Holland, Irish Times)

H/T: Oireachtas Retort