Saturday 20 January 2018

Couple with children sought refuge in Garda cell

Cheryl Barnewell and her sons Clayton and Rocco Picture: Arthur Carron
Cheryl Barnewell and her sons Clayton and Rocco Picture: Arthur Carron

A couple with two young children were forced to seek refuge at a garda station due to the lack of emergency accommodation.

The young family from Finglas, Dublin, made hundreds of phone calls to secure emergency shelter at hotels and B&Bs on Tuesday, but they were even turned away from spending the night in a garda cell. Instead, they spent the night sleeping on the floor of a homelessness charity's office.

Hairdresser Cheryl Barnewell, her sons Clayton (9) and Rocco (23 months), and her partner, security guard Glen Concannon (26), said they were told by officials from Focus Ireland's Homeless Action Team (HAT) that the only option to ensure their safety was to present themselves at a garda station.

The team is contracted by Dublin City Council's Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) to assist homeless families in securing emergency accommodation. Yet when they arrived at Finglas Garda Station, Ms Barnewell said a garda told her: "There's nothing we can do for you. You can't stay here."

Ms Barnewell spent Tuesday - as she does every day - ringing dozens of hotels and B&Bs as far afield as Co Kildare and Co Meath to find emergency accommodation for her family each night.

However, due to the seasonal influx of tourists and Saturday's Guns N' Roses concert at Slane Castle, every hotel is completely booked.

Ms Barnewell said she was able to get five nights' accommodation at a hotel in Ashbourne, but only after "raising hell" with DCC.

Focus Ireland director of advocacy Mike Allen said the couple were among a dozen homeless families with children told to seek accommodation at garda stations following discussionwith DRHE.

Irish Independent

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