Dáil's roll of dishonour is slap in face for homeless
Many will have woken up yesterday to hear a 71-year-old man weeping on RTÉ as he told his story of preparing to be evicted days before Christmas. Two hours later, fewer than 20 TDs turned up to debate child homelessness in the Dáil. In attendance were just three members of Fine Gael, including Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Six members of Fianna Fáil were on hand and just three from Sinn Féin.
Jan O'Sullivan was the sole representative from the Labour Party. Two People Before Profit TDs - Richard Boyd Barrett and Gino Kenny - were present along with Solidarity TD Mick Barry, Green Party TD Catherine Martin and Independents4Change TD Joan Collins. That was the roll of honour; the roll of dishonour, those who chose not to attend at a time when there are more than 3,000 children homeless, would be too long to publish.
When the debate actually began - as we prepare to celebrate the season of goodwill - only 13 TDs were actually in the chamber. It is worth thinking about that number when you consider that, between the end of December 2016 to June 2017, the number of families in emergency accommodation in Dublin rose from 1,028 to 1,115. Earlier this year, Brother Kevin appealed for homelessness to be declared a national emergency.
One wonders how many of those politicians who were not working, and not in the Dáil, were at home. If they were, did they stop to think how lucky they were to have a roof over their heads? If there was no room at the inn in Bethlehem, there was an abundance of it in Leinster House yesterday.