A homeless family were advised by authorities to seek emergency accommodation in their local garda station last month.
The south Dublin family, including two children, presented to homeless services on February 20 and were deemed to be in need of emergency accommodation. However, none was available to South Dublin County Council.
In a letter seen by Independent.ie, SDCC advised that the family should “present to their local garda station for a safe place to stay, or ask family/friends until such time as the family support team or a hotel becomes available”.
Sinn Fein TD, Mark Ward, who received the letter from SDCC, said: “Someone got in touch with me saying they’d nowhere to go, no family and friends, and they couldn’t find emergency accommodation.
“They were given the option of self-accommodating in the county, so basically finding a hotel room, but they couldn’t find anywhere.
“I wrote to the council asking how they were going to help somebody in this situation. I got a response saying they should go to the garda station.
“They found a B&B in the end, but without the intervention by myself and through the DRHE, who would’ve provided the funding for the B&B, they could’ve had to present at the garda station. It didn’t get that far,” he added.
Last week, the government announced an end to the eviction ban, increasing fears that some families will have no alternative but to seek emergency accommodation.
Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny has written to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris seeking clarity on facilities in garda stations for families in this situation.
“Telling families to present at their local garda station should not be an option. Across the board we all agree that children bedding down in a station is completely unsuitable,” he said.
“This will cause immeasurable distress and trauma to the families involved, but also to the gardaí who will be doing their best to support the families.
“I have written to the Garda Commissioner to ask for clarity on what facilities or resources will be available to families and the gardaí supporting them.
“Government is expecting gardaí - who are already understaffed and overstretched - to care for families who are in an unimaginable situation.
“This is a clear failure of government housing policy. The ending of the eviction ban is happening at a time when emergency accommodation in many areas is at maximum capacity.
“Garda stations act as places of safety for victims of crime, and places of detention for criminals. A station cannot become an emergency accommodation hub,” he added.
Independent.ie has contacted SDCC for further comment.
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