Saturday 19 August 2017

Mother - whose partner drowned last year - and five children forced to live in car outside cemetery

Jennifer O’Regan with her children Charlene (15), Scarlet (5), Michael (11), Victoria (13) and Madison (3). Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
Jennifer O’Regan with her children Charlene (15), Scarlet (5), Michael (11), Victoria (13) and Madison (3). Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

Olivia Kelleher

A MOTHER has been sleeping in her car with her five children because she has been unable to source emergency accommodation from Cork City Council.

Jennifer O'Regan has been sleeping in her car outside Kilcully cemetery in Cork with her children who range in age from three to 15. Ms O'Regan, originally from Farranree in Cork, previously lived in the UK before moving back home 15 months ago. Focus Ireland housed her in accommodation but she said they ended up in an "isolated" town in Co Clare.

She returned to Cork three months ago and has been attempting to access emergency accommodation. Her partner drowned last year.

She lived in a local authority house in Cork over a decade ago and upon her return found she was in arrears on her rent. She claims she is paying the local authority back by having a small portion of money deducted from her one-parent family supplement.

Ms O'Regan said she was "not looking for the keys of a house" and was happy to take accommodation of any kind.

My kids are 15, 13, 11, 5 and 3. My partner drowned last year and my eldest girl saw the drowning. My name is on the list for housing at City Hall but they (the homeless services) say they can't give me temporary accommodation because they are waiting on an assessment on me. I have gone through the assessment at City Hall and it is taking weeks."

"I am a good parent. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I will take anything they give me once its a roof over our heads. My mother isn't well and there is no room for all of us. My brother Gavin died seven years ago. He was only 31. As a family we have been to hell and back.

"My name is on the list for housing at City Hall but they (the homeless services) say they can't give me temporary accommodation because they are waiting on an assessment on me," she added.

Ms O'Regan said her children were happy to be back in Cork because she had a good family and they were doing their best to help her. "They are doing exams and trying to cope with all of this. They're delighted to be back in Cork. I am happy to take a place in line for a house. I just want somewhere to go to," she said.

In a statement, Cork City Council said: "We cannot comment on individual cases but many cases are complex and require the intervention of more than one agency to meet the need of the client."

Ms O'Regan's father, Thomas, said he was very disillusioned with a political system which allows a single mother of five to become homeless.

Irish Independent

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