Saturday 26 May 2018

Taoiseach insists Ireland has 'one of the lowest levels of homelessness'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after he delivered his first conference speech as party leader at the Fine Gael’s National Conference in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after he delivered his first conference speech as party leader at the Fine Gael’s National Conference in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has insisted Ireland has “one of the lowest levels of homelessness” by international standards despite the record number of people in emergency accommodation.

The latest figures show that 8,374 people accessed emergency accommodation in September and more than 3,100 of these were children.

Mr Varadkar used his speech last night to take a swipe at “cynics” who say the housing crisis can’t be solved and to defend Fine Gael’s plan to tackle the issue, arguing that it is working.

This afternoon Mr Varadkar was challenged on how he could say the plan is working, give the record numbers of homeless people in Ireland.

He told reporters: “Ireland has one of the lowest levels of homelessness.

“We’re actually a country by international standards compared with our peers that has a low level of homelessness,” Mr Varadkar added, saying that statistics can be provided to back this up.

He said “it’s a good thing” that Irish levels of homelessness compare favourably to other countries and said: “But what’s better than that is we don’t think that’s good enough and we want to continue to reduce homelessness.”

Mr Varadkar agreed the homeless figures here are high by Irish standards.

“Obviously homelessness and the number of people in emergency accommodation has increased in the last number of years but by international standards homelessness in Ireland is low.

“But that’s not good enough. I want to make sure that we turn the tide on it. And I think we’ll do that in the coming months and years.

“We’ve already seen in Dublin the number of people who are in emergency accommodation is now falling and we know what works.

“We just need to extend that now to the rest of the country and intensify it,” Mr Varadkar said.

Last night Mr Varadkar used his National Conference speech in Cavan to say he doesn’t believe the cynics who say the housing crisis can’t and won’t be solved.

“Yes there are major challenges with housing and homelessness, and no they won’t be solved overnight.

“But we have a plan, the plan is working, and we won’t stop until we succeed,” he said.

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