Campaigners issue ultimatum to housing minister over homeless crisis

The Taoiseach insists housing and homelessness remain a Government priority

Campaigners issue ultimatum to housing minister over homeless crisis

File photo of the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, 26-02-2018. Image: 26-02-2018. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

Homeless campaigners have given the housing minister a month to come up with a new strategy to tackle the housing crisis.

Outreach workers say Minister Eoghan Murphy should resign his position if he can't bring forward workable new ideas within a month.

Campaigners are calling for a national emergency to be declared after figures for February revealed the biggest rise in homelessness since the current records have been taken.

Crisis

The figures, released by the Department of Housing yesterday afternoon found that the number of homeless people in Ireland rose by over 700 to 9,807.

The number of homeless families meanwhile rose by 222 to 1,739.

A total of 488 children fell into homelessness in February - with 3755 now facing the prospect of celebrating Easter in emergency accommodation.

Minister Murphy has admitted the rise is 'very worrying.'

He said he expects a "dramatic increase" in housing supply over the course of 2018 and into 2019 that, he said, will reduce the number of people in homelessness.

Emergency

The Inner City Helping Homeless charity held a demonstration outside Leinster House this morning  calling on the Government to declare a national housing emergency.

The charity's CEO Anthony Flynn said the Taoiseach and the minister must respond to the 'totally unacceptable' figures:

"We are looking for the here and now," he said.

"We are looking for social housing to be built. At the moment, it is not being done - the minister hasn't got a plan.

"I would ask that the minister put a plan in place immediately and if he doesn't put a plan in place over the next month that he resigns from his position."

No confidence

The demonstration came after leading homelessness campaigners Fr Peter McVerry and Sr Stanislaus Kennedy warned that they have lost all confidence in "either the ability or commitment " of the Government to solve the crisis.

"The inability or unwillingness to assure this basic right to tens of thousands of people in Ireland today is an indictment of our society and constitutes an emergency that requires far more radical action than we have seen so far," they said in a joint statement.

"Homelessness in Ireland today is not inevitable and nor should it be considered normal. It can be eliminated if the political will is there.”

Appearing in front of the Oireachtas Finance Committee this morning, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar insisted that housing and homelessness "remain a Government priority."

He said the Government is "committed to delivering an increased supply of affordable, quality and accessible housing."