Enda Kenny: Homelessness situation is not just about providing beds

The Taoiseach gives an in-depth interview to newstalk's Talking Point

Enda Kenny: Homelessness situation is not just about providing beds

Taoiseach Enda Kenny (left) arrives in Brussels for a European Council meeting | Image: © European Union

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has stated that the issue of homelessness in Ireland is more complex than simply providing a bed.

In a special, extended interview with Sarah Carey on Newstalk's Talking Point, the Taoiseach stated that the solution to the current homelessness crisis will be found in long-term planning - which he said has been put in place by Housing minister Simon Coveney. 

Speaking about the Apollo House situation, Mr Kenny said: "I understand the frustration here, and I understand how concerned people can be when you have rough sleepers or those who are homeless for whatever reason [...] the duty of government is to deal with that consequence," said Mr Kenny.

"In Dublin this weekend, there will be 1,800 emergency beds, so there are beds available tonight for anybody who's looking for a bed. But you see, it's not just about looking for a bed," he added.

Mr Kenny said it is important to provide reliable services that people need - as well as lodging. 

Highlighting Ellis Street, a new facility in Dublin, Mr Kenny said: "You're not going to have a situation where you have to fight your way in or you're left on your own."

"There's both integrity and credibility and love and respect given by caring professionals who are going to be there all the time looking after people, because that's their job."

"It's not just about finding a bed in some place for a person for the night, this is about giving services.

"Dental treatment, chiropody, assistance with getting your medical card, food in the morning, showers, laundry; all these things that a person needs."

Mr Kenny also noted that the conversation around providing social housing is intrinsically tied to planning for the future - from where towns are being built to providing them with the facilities they will need. This process, he added, would be a long-term project that can't be solved without cooperation across a number of different bodies. 

"We need all the local authorities, the elected representatives and the department to look down at Ireland and where we want it to be in 25 years' time, and that is in a world that's changing rapidly," he said. It's not just about doing the same as we always did, that will not work."

You can listen to the full interview on Christmas Eve at 9am