Fianna Fáil insists budget will prioritise homelessness and housing

The party stopped short of saying it is a red line issue in negotiations

Fianna Fáil insists budget will prioritise homelessness and housing

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Fianna Fáil has warned the Government that the upcoming budget must prioritise the homeless and housing crises.

It's after a mother and six of her children had to sleep in a Garda station in Dublin because of a lack of emergency accommodation.

Margaret Cash presented at Tallaght Garda Station on Wednesday night because the only emergency accommodation on offer would have seen her family split up.

This afternoon Fianna Fáil called for a child homelessness task force to be established and urged the Government to make the crisis its priority in the October budget.

The party's spokesperson housing and urban renewal Pat Casey said negotiators will be pushing for the changes when negotiations with Fine Gael begin.

However, he refused to call it a red line issue for his party.

"This will be a housing budget, and while we talk about social housing and the importance of social housing, the other key aspect of the housing thing is affordability," he said.

"There is a whole generation now of people who have lost the ability of owning their own home - owning that little piece of the world for their own.

"We have to get that aspiration back and give them the opportunity to afford affordable homes moving forward."

Social housing

He said the problem is only getting worse and noted that, among all the issues causing the problem, one key action must be taken to fix it.

"We are seeing a further increase of notice to quit by landlords; we are seeing landlords getting out of the rental market and this is adding to the problem of providing homes for people," he said.

"But the core problem at the end of the day is that the State is not building enough houses.

"Up until the State realises that we need to get to a minimum of 20% social housing, we are absolutely wasting our time."

Government record

Meanwhile, Government TDs and ministers have been out this morning attempting to defend their record when it comes to dealing with the homelessness crisis.

The Minister for Health said the government is already prioritising increasing the social housing stock - and will continue to do so.

the housing crisis is the biggest scar left by the financial crash, and he wants to know the full details of what happened with Margaret Cash and her children:

"I have heard very clearly from the public comments of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive that their view was that this could have been avoided," he said.

"But it clearly wasn't and no mother takes her children to a Garda station lightly.

"So we are going to continue as a Government to absolutely prioritise increasing the stock of social housing and to continue providing funding to the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and others to make sure that emergency accommodation can be provided in the interim."

The Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is currently away on his holidays, however his Government colleagues claim he is regularly in touch about the situation.

"Shocked but not surprised"

Yesterday, homelessness activist Fr Peter McVerry told The Pat Kenny Show that he was "shocked but not surprised" that Margaret Cash was forced to present at the Garda station.

Warning that the Government will be judged on its response to homeless and housing crises at the next election, he said it is "absurd" for the country to find itself in this situation.

"It highlights the fact Government policy isn't working," he said. "But they won't admit it isn't working.

"Until they admit it isn't working and try and do something else, we are not going to get anywhere."

With reporting from Sean Defoe ...