Monday 26 September 2016

Families made homeless as our 158 TDs dither

Published 14/04/2016 | 02:30

According to the Department of the Environment, every day in February saw another Irish family become homeless. There are now 912 families, including 1,881 children, without a home
According to the Department of the Environment, every day in February saw another Irish family become homeless. There are now 912 families, including 1,881 children, without a home

Only weeks ago, the streets of the country were thronged as we celebrated and marked the centenary of 1916 with pride.

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But it doesn't say much about our journey towards a fairer society when later this month homeless families in hotels and B&Bs will have to be included in the census for the first time.

And, according to the Department of the Environment, every day in February saw another Irish family become homeless. There are now 912 families, including 1,881 children, without a home.

Today, this paper also reports on shameful overcrowding in University Hospital Galway, with patients weeping openly on trolleys. Later today, in Leinster House, 158 TDs will crank up our spluttering engine of democracy in the Dáil, in the hope that it might create enough cement to form a government. We live in hope, but judging by the level of commitment thus far brought to the task of making the 32nd Dáil a concrete reality, we had better sit tight.

And should they fail, those TDs will return to their warm homes and they will have hot meals to eat. They will not have to sleep on the pavements of our cities. They will not worry about whether their children are hungry. And, sure, they can always come back next week and try again.

Since the crash, we have learned much about our sense of worth as a nation; it forced us to take a hard look at ourselves. We said goodbye as hundreds of thousands emigrated. We struggled, but by and large we survived. However, it was collectively hoped that as a people we might define ourselves less as an economy and more as a society.

We were promised a new politics for a new era. We are still waiting. The economic progress was remarkable but politically, and socially, we have barely scratched the surface. Recently, the head of social justice and policy at SVP, John-Mark McCafferty, said there was a responsibility to form a stable government as soon as possible or else call another election. Mr McCafferty said: "The next government must focus on generating a fair and sustainable recovery which does not leave our most vulnerable people behind."

The next government? One wonders how many more Irish families will be homeless before such an entity comes into view.

Irish Independent

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