Taoiseach branded 'too elitist and arrogant’ to fix homeless crisis

Focus Ireland says Fianna Fáil should take action instead of seeking "cheap headlines"

Taoiseach branded 'too elitist and arrogant’ to fix homeless crisis

File photo of the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the National Gallery of Ireland, 10-04-2018. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

The Taoiseach has been accused of being 'too elitist and arrogant to fix the housing crisis.'

That's according to Fianna Fáil's newly appointed housing spokesperson Darragh O'Brien.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, The Dublin Fingal TD accused both Leo Varadkar and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy of 'not being part of the people.'

He added that their backgrounds prevent them from sympathising with ordinary people.

Elderly homeless 

It comes as Focus Ireland warned that the number of homeless people aged 65 and over has shot up by 40% in the last two years.

There are currently 119 people in the age bracket accessing emergency accommodation.

The charity has said the figures are “shameful” for the Government, warning that many elderly people face additional problems including poor health, isolation and shame at their position.

"Cheap headlines"

Spokesperson Roughan McNamara said Fianna Fáil should be careful about throwing stones

“They would really want to look at their own record; not only in Government but in the support arrangement they have with this Fine Gael Government to tackle this issue.

“They could be doing a lot more in their position rather than simply personalising it to gain easy and cheap headlines.”

Battlelines

On Newstalk’s On the Record this morning, Jennifer Bray, Deputy Political Editor with The Times Ireland Edition said battle lines are being drawn between Ireland’s two main political parties.

“Fianna Fáil who have been propping up this Government for so many years are floundering in the polls,” she said.

“They need to start now striking out and basically saying what makes them different to Fine Gael.

“So they are going to paint Fine Gael as this kind of elitist snobby party, whereas Fianna Fáil is the party of the Ireland for all and the fair and decent society.

“That is where we are going and you are going to see a lot of more of this over the next few months.”

"Shameful"

Focus Ireland has launched a petition calling for action on the rising number of elderly people entering homelessness.

The charity’s director Mike Allen said the new figures are “shameful for our Government and society.”

“Every man, woman and child should have a place they can call home, and the housing and homeless crisis is hitting the most vulnerable people throughout our society," he said.

“It is totally wrong and unacceptable to see older people, many of whom have worked all their lives and now find themselves without a home at that particularly vulnerable age when they need a sense of security in their own home so that we can enjoy their golden years. 

“There are also people in this position who have been let down time and time again by successive governments over the years and now to find themselves homeless when they are pensioners.”

"Overwhelming"

He said the scale of the homeless crisis can “sometimes seem overwhelming” with nearly 10,000 people without a home.

“The Government has completely abandoned targets for ending any aspect of the problem,” he said.

“However, the scale of homelessness among our older people is small enough – and the impact of it is so damaging – that it should be a realistic priority for the Government to eliminate older people’s homelessness, as a first step to tackling the overall problem. 

He said homelessness among the elderly “could be tackled and eliminated in a number of weeks not months are years.”