Minister agrees to spend night at a homeless hostel
Junior Housing Minister Damien English has agreed to sleep at a homeless hostel after he was challenged by a teenager who has been sleeping rough for the last year.
The minister was taking questions from the audience at the Irish Council for Social Housing's AGM in Dublin yesterday when a 19-year-old, who asked to use the name Brian Middleton for this report, complained about a particular hostel in the capital.
"I've been sleeping on the street for a year, I want to know if the minister will spend three days on the freephone and if not what that reveals?" said Mr Middleton.
Mr English said he was "engaged" with a "lot of people" and understood there were issues.
"Does this mean you'll stay in a bed?" Mr Middleton asked.
The minister said he had heard the name of the particular hostel "mentioned a lot", adding he would "spend some time there".
However Mr Middleton, who is originally from London, was not happy with this and asked did that mean the minister would stay at the hostel and take "a bed".
"I will do, I've no problem doing it, I'll do it, I'll do it," Mr English said. He added he would do this in a "quiet way" and "not as a media thing".
The teenager left his London home after a falling-out with his family and has been sleeping rough in Dublin. He is hoping to soon rebuild his life but said he has been unable to claim benefits in Ireland.
He said he felt politicians have lost sight of the human toll of the housing crisis.
"They see most homeless people as beggars, emotional manipulators. There is no connection to us being human beings," he added.