'What level of child homelessness before Housing Minister’s position becomes untenable?' - Dail hears
The number of homeless children has doubled “on this Government’s watch,” Sinn Féin TD, Pearse Doherty, has told the Dáil.
Mr Doherty said the current homelessness crisis had left over 3,755 children in emergency homeless accommodation. He rejected claims that the Government and Housing Minister, Eoghan Murphy, were making progress on the problem.
“The Minister’s claim that he is getting to grips with the situation is not true and his position is becoming increasingly untenable,” the Sinn Féin deputy leader said.
The Donegal TD asked Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, whether he was not “embarrassed” and ashamed by the latest housing figures which have showed huge increases in homelessness.
“What level of child homelessness do we need to achieve before Minister Murphy’s position becomes untenable?” Mr Doherty angrily asked.
The Sinn Féin TD pointed to scathing criticisms of the situation by campaigners, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy and Fr Peter McVerry.
Replying for the Government Mr Coveney said Mr Doherty was trying to make “a political issue” out of the homelessness situation. “It does upset me as an individual, and as a father, as well as a Minister,” Mr Coveney replied.
Mr Coveney also argued that some progress was being made and funding for housing had been increased by 50pc to €6bn. “Money is not the barrier,” here he said, adding that it was about increasing capacity to provide more housing.
The Tánaiste said 2,000 families had been taken out of emergency accommodation and put into long-term homes last year. He hoped that 4,000 families could be helped in the same way in 2018 and the Government would continue the battle to deal with the crisis and remained open to new policy ideas on the issue.