Archbishop criticises lack of action on homelessness
The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin has criticised the Government's failure to address the growing homelessness crisis, which he described as a symptom of a widespread failure of social policy.
His criticism was made as the charity Focus Ireland released new figures showing that one family a day becomes homeless in the capital, while it experienced a 25pc increase in the number of people it supported last year.
Focus Ireland Founder Sr Stanislaus Kennedy called on the Government to take action "to stop the growing crisis" and address the "critical shortage of accommodation".
"The blame for this can only be laid at the door of the Government and only the Government can stop this from happening in many cases," said Sr Stan at the launch of the Focus Ireland 2013 annual report.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin appealed to the Government to address the social consequences of Ireland's economic policies.
Speaking yesterday as he launched a new report on the work of Crosscare's Information and Advocacy Services, the senior clergyman called on the Government to identify measures to redress the disadvantage which the vulnerable have suffered.
Archbishop Martin hit out at the level of homelessness in "wealthy Dublin", describing it as "shameful". He labelled the level of precariousness around accommodation, especially for families, as "worrying".
Ciara McGrath, project leader at Crosscare's Sackville Place centre, told how over 700 people who presented to its homeless and advocacy service last year had no income of any kind. Though many were entitled to social welfare support, poor information in government departments forced them into homelessness, she found.
"We would deal a lot with people from immigrant communities. It is no secret that they have been hit particularly hard by job losses. They also have difficulties navigating social protection supports and come up against stumbling blocks which can result in homelessness," she said.
Sr Breege Keenan said Crosscare assisted 5,000 people last year and made 12,000 interventions with the homeless, undocumented, asylum-seekers and the disadvantaged. One of those helped was 63-year-old Lyudmyla Vinnikova from Ukraine. She arrived in Ireland in January 2013 and was living in a reception centre for asylum seekers.
She paid tribute to Crosscare for helping her get accommodation, social welfare payments and get on "the road of return", as Archbishop Martin described it. "They helped me find my way when I came up against problems," she said.