Monday 22 October 2018

'Shocking and wrong' - Children forced to sleep on hard chairs in Garda station amid ongoing homelessness crisis

  • Last night was 'one of the worst' for homeless families in five years
  • Some 48 homeless families presented to garda stations last month
The young mother and six children were referred to Tallaght Garda Station as they had
The young mother and six children were referred to Tallaght Garda Station as they had "nowhere else to go", according to Gardai. Photo: ICHH

Rachel Farrell

A FAMILY of seven was forced to sleep in a Garda station last night as they "had nowhere else to go" on one of the "worst days for homelessness services", according to volunteers.

A Garda spokesperson confirmed that a young mother and her six children slept in Tallaght Garda Station on Wednesday night.

Ranging from a one-year-old to 11 years old, the six children are understood to have slept on chairs in the Garda station in Dublin.

"I can confirm a young mother and her six children presented at Tallaght Garda Station during the night as they had nowhere to go," a Garda spokesperson told Independent.ie.

"Members of An Garda Síochána tried all the emergency lines in relation to homeless shelter and no accommodation was located, a number of local hotels were also phoned," the spokesperson said.

In the pictures, some of the children are wearing school uniforms.

The family was provided with breakfast this morning and has since been referred to a local authority.

"The family were cared for during the night by the members working and received a hot breakfast this morning in Tallaght GS," the spokesperson said.

"The family have now left the Garda station and are on the way to South Dublin Co-Council, Housing Department."

The CEO of Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) said that last night was "one of the worst" for homeless families in recent memory.

"Yesterday was one of the worst days we had for homelessness services in five years," Anthony Flynn told Independent.ie.

"Last month we had 48 families referred to Garda stations because of the influx presenting themselves homeless. The month before it was 47 and that number is expected to be a lot higher this month."

According to the Department of Housing, 9,872 people were in emergency accommodation during the week of June 18-24 this year - an increase of 26 from the previous month.

The number of families in emergency accommodation has dramatically risen in the past four years, with 1,121 families presenting themselves as homeless in December 2017 compared to 331 families in 2014.

According to Mr Flynn, up to eight different families were referred to Garda stations across Dublin last night.

"Unfortunately, by the time we knew the family were in Tallaght station, we hadn’t got any accommodation available and two families previous to that had been refused," Mr Flynn said.

"It’s shocking and it’s wrong. The question has to be answered, who put them there? Having to be accommodated in a Garda station is unacceptable. It’s no life for a child."

For ICHH, one of the biggest challenges they’re preparing to face is for the Papal visit on August 25 and 26.

Mr Flynn is calling on the government for an “immediate solution” to the influx in families walking the streets. 

"My fear around accommodation is for the Papal visit this month. We already have hotels not accepting homeless families," Mr Flynn said.

"Where are these people going to go? Some families were walking the streets until half nine last night before getting a call. That means they were walking the streets all day with no baby changing facilities or anything.

"The Minister needs to come back to work, the problem lies with him. We need an immediate solution to what’s gone wrong here.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Housing said they "were aware" of the situation and that Minister Eoghan Murphy has spoken with the DRHE who have confirmed that they are reviewing the processes in place for those who present late at night in need of emergency accommodation.

"Emergency accommodation was available last night but there is clearly urgent need for better communication between the DRHE, our Partner Organisations and State Agencies to ensure families can be accommodated at short notice when they present," said the spokesperson.

While the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), said an "unprecedented" number of 10 families contacted the council seeking accommodation late last night.

"On the night of the 8th August 2018 an unprecedented number of families presented out of hours seeking emergency accommodation," a spokesperson told Independent.ie. 

"We were notified by the Family Homeless Action Team that they were actively engaged with 10 families, who were unable to source their own accommodation.

"Our Central Placement Team were able to source emergency accommodation for five of the families, one family refused the offer of accommodation, two of the families were linked back in with their region (outside of Dublin) and two did not seek further assistance."

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