"It was just so frightening" - homeless mother on sleeping at Tallaght Garda Station with her children

Margaret Cash says she "sat up all night" watching her children try to sleep on chairs

"It was just so frightening" - homeless mother on sleeping at Tallaght Garda Station with her children

Tallaght Garda Station. Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews

A Dublin mother has spoken of her fears for the future after she was forced to sleep at a Garda Station with six of her children last night because there was nowhere else for her to go.

Homeless activist have described the pictures of Margaret Cash's children trying to sleep on chairs at Tallaght Garda Station last night as "a new low."

Gardaí said officers tried all the homeless shelter emergency lines and a number of local hotels - however no accommodation could be found.

Inner City Helping Homeless CEO Anthony Flynn said 10 families were referred to Garda Stations by State bodies - with 16 children forced to sleep at stations across the city.

Margaret Cash, who was forced to sleep at Tallaght Garda Statoin with her six young children last night. Image: Henry McKean

Nowhere to go

Speaking to Newstalk's Henry McKean this afternoon Ms Cash spoke of her desperation at being left with no other option to keep her kids safe.

"I feel disgusted as a mother that there is not more that I can do for them," she said.

"I feel horrible; I feel like crying. It is horrible, it is really very, very hard."

She said she has been on the housing list for 11 years - and has been homeless since the house was repossessed after her previous landlord went bankrupt.

She said it was "so frightening" to be referred to the Gardaí when looking for a place to sleep.

"Until you are in that situation you will never know what it is like," she said.

"We went to the Garda Station and they said, 'well what do they expect us to do? We have nowhere to put you.'"

Up all night

She said she "sat up all night" watching her children try to sleep on chairs.

"It was horrible. It was disgusting, it was disgraceful," she said.

"The kids felt scruffy, they felt dirty they didn't have anywhere to wash; they didn't have anywhere to do anything."

She said the family 'just wants somewhere to call home.'

"School starts back in a couple of weeks and I don't even know what school to put my kids into," she said.

"I am from Tallaght, I have been living in Tallaght all my life and the council just keep on telling that they have nothing.

"That is all I get every day."

Indictment on Government

ICHH chief Anthony Flynn said it is "totally unacceptable" to have families sleeping in Garda Stations - and warned that it is unsustainable to rely on hotels to house homeless families.

"Today I have asked that the Dáil is recalled; that the minister comes back to work," he said.

"The minister is ultimately responsible for this situation and this crisis and he is not reacting to this whatsoever.

"16 children sleeping in Garda Stations is an indictment on Government, an indictment on council and an indictment on those that are supposed to be providing the services and putting these people into accommodation and ensuring their accommodation needs are met.

"This is going to happen again tonight.

"We are going to be in the same situation again tonight unless something is addressed today."

He said the Minister needs to come to the table today.

"The fact of the matter is that there is a major breakdown in communication right across the system at the moment and everybody needs to sit across the table and address this head on."

"Absurd"

Earlier, homeless activist Fr Peter McVerry warned that the Government will be judged on its response to the homeless crisis at the next election.

"We have the fastest growing economy in the EU and we have this situation and it is probably going to increase," he said.

"It is absolutely absurd; it highlights the fact Government policy isn't working, 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."

"Unprecedented"

In a statement the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) said an "unprecedented number of families presented out of hours seeking emergency accommodation" last night.

It said the Focus Ireland Family Homeless Action Team "actively engaged with 10 families, who were unable to source their own accommodation."

Accommodation was found for five of them - while "One family refused the offer of accommodation, two of the families were linked back in with their region (outside of Dublin) and two did not seek further assistance."

The Government said the homeless crisis remains a priority adding that " we are absolutely committed to increasing the delivery of housing to ensure that we can deliver solutions for those experiencing homelessness."

It said it has ring-fenced funding under Rebuilding Ireland to increase the social housing stock by 50,000 homes by 2021.