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Sinn Fein will back proposal to rehome families in prefabs

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Sinn Fein TD Dessie Ellis

Sinn Fein TD Dessie Ellis

Sinn Fein TD Dessie Ellis

SINN Fein politicians in Dublin are prepared to support controversial plans to house people in prefabs as an emergency response to the homeless crisis.

Party strategists have given their backing to the move on the condition that a long term solution is found to address the serious shortage of council homes in the capital.

Proposals by Dublin City Council to house people in prefabs have caused outrage and have been met with strong opposition by Tanaiste Joan Burton and Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

Officials believe housing families in hotels is unsuitable as children have to sleep in the same room as their parents and there are no cooking facilities.

The proposal, is being opposed by the majority of parties, has been met by unlikely support from the largest party on Dublin City Council, Sinn Fein.

Party councillors have been advised to support the measures as a "temporary solution" to the homeless crisis.

In correspondence between a number of Sinn Fein's politicians on Dublin City and South Dublin County Council, it is stated that the proposals should not be opposed as emergency measures.

However, the correspondence illustrates the desire among party officials not to be seen to publicly support such an unpopular measure.

"Separately we shouldn't be publicly supporting housing people in prefabs," the correspondence states.

"However if the Council sets them up as emergency measures we should also not oppose them but ensure that the living conditions are better than the hotels and B&Bs currently in use and that they are temporary," it adds. Sinn Fein's Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis has been a vocal critic of the government's efforts to solve the homeless crisis in Dublin.

But it will come as a surprise that Sinn Fein is willing to back such a controversial proposal that even government ministers say should not be pursued.

In a letter to Minister Kelly this week, Mr Ellis said "serious attention" needs to be paid to the housing situation in Dublin.

The Dublin North West TD demanded a meeting between the minister and a Sinn Fein delegation comprising of representative sitting on all four local authorities.

"Refusal to accommodate this request would be an act of disrespect towards these local authorities who have passed motions recently requesting such a meeting. It would also show a lack of willingness on your part to work with stakeholders in dealing with this crisis," Mr Ellis wrote.

The remarks come as new figures obtained by the Irish Independent show a dramatic reduction in the number of families who receive rent supplement.

The relief measure, designed to prevent people from becoming homeless, is being handed out to the lowest number of recipients in years.

There were some 74,080 recipients of the rent supplement countrywide this month - compared to 93,030 in 2008. Figures supplied to Dublin City councillor Ruairi McGinley show that the State has slashed the overall rent supplement by 50pc, or over €200,000, over the past five years.

A significant reduction in recent supplement in Dublin - where the city council has proposed building prefabs on derelict sites to ease demand.

Cllr McGinley, who is closely associated with former European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton, said he believes the homeless crisis has escalated as a direct result of cuts to rent supplement.

"I suggest that rent supplement levels in Dublin are increased immediately as it is clear that increases in social housing output are too slow to cope with current situation."

Irish Independent