Thursday 14 November 2019

'Minister's words of little comfort to young people living in hotels for years'

Eoghan Murphy. Picture: Collins
Eoghan Murphy. Picture: Collins

Ryan Nugent, Paul Melia and David Fleming

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy's words are of "little comfort" to homeless teenagers living in hotels, a leading children's charity has said.

Yesterday, a Leaving Cert student - who has been living with her family in a hotel for two years - said there was no chance of her getting to college in her current situation.

Speaking on RTÉ's 'Morning Ireland', Amanda (18), which is not her real name, said she couldn't cope with studying in a hotel.

"Time is already flying by, next thing I know I'll blink and it's my Leaving Cert and if I have to do that in here there's no chance of me going to college. There's no chance of me going forward with my education," she said.

"It's really diminishing and degrading having to wake up and look at the dirt, the mould. It's a struggle every day getting up and even just taking the blankets off yourself every morning. It's horrible.

"People need to know that it is deadly to live like this. You feel like you have no life left, living in here with no help, no sense of security, you just think 'what's the point?' you really do.

"Leo Varadkar and Eoghan Murphy and everyone else that's sitting in the Dáil, it's their job to care and if they don't, they shouldn't have the job, give the job to someone that actually cares."

Reacting to the interview, Mr Murphy said he heard it and also heard Amanda speak last year and said two years was too long to be living in a hotel.

"I remember at the time thinking how brave she was, but also her family, in telling her story because people need to hear these stories. Too many times when we have a crisis in Irish society, the reaction is to try and ignore it," he said. "We have to confront this head on, because too many families are living in insecure accommodation, are in hotels, and that's unacceptable."

Responding to Amanda's plight and Mr Murphy's comments, head of advocacy at Barnardos June Tinsley told the Irish Independent serious mental health issues are coming down the line for children that have had to live in hotels.

Ms Tinsley said children were being denied the opportunity to reach their potential.

"The long-term implications on their education and the untold psychological damage this crisis is having on children will pan out and is being done so now, but even more into the long term," she said.

"His [Eoghan Murphy's] words are going to offer little comfort to young people who are in that situation today.

"Although we're hearing the minister saying the numbers are going down and our policies are working. On an individual level, she's not experiencing any benefit."

Irish Independent

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