Tuesday 27 September 2016

'It will happen to someone else if we don’t speak up' - Family evicted from emergency accommodation at Regency Hotel

Jane Faherty

Published 10/06/2016 | 13:23

Aidan O'Connor and Lauren Rice outside the Regency Hotel.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Aidan O'Connor and Lauren Rice outside the Regency Hotel. Photo: Tony Gavin
John Glynn, manager of The Regency Hotel. Photo: Tony Gavin
Rosie Leonard of Dublin Central Housing Action outside the Regency Hotel. Photo: Tony Gavin
The Regency Hotel. Photo: Tony Gavin
Signs outside the Regency Hotel
Neta Teba, Aoife Kavanagh, Rolf Lolisson, Francis Murphy and Philip O'Brien of the Grangegorman squat show solidarity with the evicted families outside the Regency Hotel. Photo: Tony Gavin 10/6/2016
Seamus Farrell of the Irish Housing Network outside the Regency Hotel. Photo: Tony Gavin

A standoff between Dublin City Council and a family evicted from emergency accommodation in the Regency Hotel is expected to end by this evening.

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Aidan O’Connell and Lauren Rice slept outside the premises on Thursday night after being removed from their room. 

The couple, who lived there for three months, say they were forced out following an argument with hotel management after complaining about mould in their room.

They were then contacted by DCC, who said their booking with the hotel had been cancelled.

Neta Teba, Aoife Kavanagh, Rolf Lolisson, Francis Murphy and Philip O'Brien of the Grangegorman squat show solidarity with the evicted families outside the Regency Hotel.
Photo: Tony Gavin 10/6/2016
Neta Teba, Aoife Kavanagh, Rolf Lolisson, Francis Murphy and Philip O'Brien of the Grangegorman squat show solidarity with the evicted families outside the Regency Hotel. Photo: Tony Gavin 10/6/2016

Aidan (20) told the Herald that he first raised the complaint when one of the children developed respiratory problems from black mould in the room.

“We brought her to the doctor and the doctor said bring her to Temple Street,” he said.

Seamus Farrell of the Irish Housing Network outside the Regency Hotel.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Seamus Farrell of the Irish Housing Network outside the Regency Hotel. Photo: Tony Gavin

“She ended up in hospital,” he added. “I stayed in hospital that night with her.”

“We got a letter from the hospital saying the child needs to be in a clean environment, a room that has no black mould and they wouldn’t move us out of the room.”

Lauren (23) said she wanted to speak out about her experience to encourage others to challenge poor standards in accommodation.

“It will happen to someone else’s child if we don’t speak up,” she said.

“The other families are all saying ‘Fair play to you’, but they’re too afraid to speak up,” she added.

Seamus Farrell, a spokesperson for the Irish Housing Network said the family drew attention to the conditions in the room about two or three weeks ago.

Rosie Leonard of Dublin Central Housing Action outside the Regency Hotel.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Rosie Leonard of Dublin Central Housing Action outside the Regency Hotel. Photo: Tony Gavin

Black mould had begun to spread around the room, causing the children to develop respiratory problems.

"Eventually they got so sick that they had to go to Temple Street Children's Hospital," he told the Herald.

John Glynn, manager of The Regency Hotel.
Photo: Tony Gavin
John Glynn, manager of The Regency Hotel. Photo: Tony Gavin

Family representatives contacted the media, and the hotel management moved to evict them from the accommodation.

"Dublin City Council closes at 5pm," he continued. "It was the end of the day, and they were meant to be given 48 hours notice."

Mr Farrell also claimed the hotel wiped the family's key cards to the room, meaning they can no longer access their belongings.

The family then had no choice but to sleep in tents outside the hotel.

While the family are meeting with Dublin city Council this morning, the Irish Housing Network says the local authority has "definitely messed up".

"They have a key worker on site who is meant to be referred to if there are any problems. That wasn't followed," Mr Farrell said.

"We also got calls from Focus Ireland to say the eviction should not have happened," he added.

Asked to comment on the eviction, a spokesperson for hotel management said it had not taken the decision to evict the family.

In a statement, Dublin City Council said the eviction was a result of an incident “which gave rise to substantial health and safety concerns for staff providing accommodation for families in the hotel.”

“DCC and the DRHE is very mindful that the experience of homelessness can lead to stressful circumstances, however the health and safety of staff is also a factor which we must have regard for,” it continued.

DCC added that its Homeless Central Placement Service had given the family numerous offers of alternative accommodation in the past. 

Herald

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