Friday 19 July 2019

When will the Dáil get serious about tackling scourge of homelessness?

Editorial comment

Dublin City Council seems to be taking a leaf from the books of the capital's richest residents.

Like profits of the multinationals that helped fuel the surge in house prices and the millionaire developers who built the vastly overpriced homes, the council considered a similar strategy by also moving its homeless 'offshore'.

Off the streets and into a cruise liner. Not a luxury liner, of course, more a floating ghetto for Ireland's least fortunate.

At least they'd be off the streets, was the council's warped logic. Yes, off the streets and out of sight. And we all know that out of sight means out of mind.

That's the real crux of the homeless crisis and why so little is being done about it.

It is largely hidden away - behind the closed doors of hostels and hotels the length and breadth of the county - and many people either don't know its true extent or just don't care as long as they don't have to see it for themselves.

There are obviously still many hundreds of people living rough on the streets but most of Ireland's homeless are hidden away.

An invisible multitude of men, women and children who are crying out for help but who are neither being heard nor listened to.

The nationwide apathy about the dismal failure of our country to take care of its most vulnerable has allowed our political leaders to avoid the issue.

There are always a few mealy mouthed platitude's whenever the housing crisis is mentioned - a pledge to spend a little money over the next decade or so - but there has been no tangible action.

That's as much the public's fault as the politicians. The only thing the parties fear is losing power.

Homelessness should be the greatest political issue of our time.

The Government needs to know that if it doesn't deal with the crisis, it could find itself drummed out of the plush lodgings of Leinster House.

Past experience shows that until they realise their jobs are actually on the line, Irish politicians are notoriously slow to act.

It's time to put that fear to good use.

The housing crisis needs to be the biggest issue of the next election and we mustn't allow the parties distract us from it with promises of tax cuts or other juicy give-aways.

Either the Government gets its act together and starts building houses now - not in two or three years time - or we dump them out of office.

No more excuses and no more manipulated housing statistics. Dealing with the crisis will cost money, a lot of it. It's as simple as that and there is no avoiding it.

Last week a young schoolgirl called Amanda broke hearts when she told RTÉ about the two years - two full years - that she has lived in the same hotel room with her family.

Politicians, of course, delivered their usual empty expressions of sympathy and rolled out a few statistics on spending plans.

That's not much good to Amanda and her family. They don't need tea and sympathy. They, and thousands more like them, need a home. Stop talking and get it done.

Gorey Guardian