Call for national emergency to be declared on homelessness

The SVP says a 'compassionate and empathetic' response is needed

Call for national emergency to be declared on homelessness

A mural highlighting homelessness on Camden Row in Dublin, created by art collective Subset | Image: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) is calling on the Government to "declare a national emergency" over the homeless crisis.

It says the Government must act now as an unprecedented number of families seek emergency accommodation.

The group says the upcoming Papal visit will "bring to the fore the depth of the crisis", and how the use of hotels to meet the needs of homeless families is "entirely inappropriate".

The comments come after a mother and her six children slept in a Dublin Garda Station earlier this week, with no other accommodation available.

Margaret Cash, who was forced to sleep at Tallaght Garda Station with her six young children | Image: Henry McKean

Kieran Stafford is SVP's national president.

He says: "It is utterly unacceptable that any child should have to spend a night sleeping in a car or a Garda Station.

"Childhood is short, and at this time of year, children should be enjoying their summer holidays with friends and family.

"No child should have to worry about where they are going to sleep at night."

He adds: "We first heard reports of children sleeping in Garda Stations in May 2017 and nothing has changed 14 months later.

"It is clear that the current policy has failed.

"The Government must ramp up the delivery of social housing, and end the long-term use of emergency accommodation for children and families."

Margaret Cash's children, aged from 11-years-old to one-year-old, presented at Tallaght Garda Station on Wednesday | Image: Anthony Flynn

In SVP's pre-budget submission, it also called on Government to increase the vacant site and vacant property levies to address issues of speculation and hoarding.

"We need a compassionate and empathetic response to the crisis.

"Unhelpful narratives that seek to blame people for their circumstances can't be used to distract from the root cause of the crisis - an overreliance on the private sector to meet housing need.

"Children's well-being can no longer be collateral damage to a dysfunctional housing system", Mr Stafford says.