Homelessness in Dublin 'shameful', says Archbishop

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Photo: Frank McGrath

By Elaine McCahill

THE level of homelessness in the capital has been branded as "shameful" by Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.

He also criticised the State's response to the social housing crisis across the country.

Dr Martin spoke at the launch of a report into the Church's Crosscare information and advocacy services yesterday, saying: "The level of homelessness in what is a wealthy Dublin is shameful."

He said the church agency had to turn away 1,000 of the country's poorest people last year because they could not cope with demand.

The archbishop also said that Crosscare would not be afraid to point out how our public services have failed those who need them most.

Dr Martin said the Government needed to focus on the marginalised in society and "to identify measures to redress the disadvantage which the vulnerable have suffered".

He also claimed the Department of Social Protection needed more money and a "more enlightened housing policy".

"We face one of the paradoxes of many developed societies where we have increased homelessness and we have unoccupied housing, we have people hungry and enormous quantities of food are thrown away daily," he added.

The Crosscare report comes as new figures from Focus Ireland show that one family a day are becoming homeless in Ireland and that more than 10,000 people turned to the charity for help last year.

This is a 25pc increase from 8,000 the previous year.

Focus Ireland has already helped 8,000 people this year, and in the past month 39 families have become homeless in Dublin alone.

Mark Byrne, the acting chief executive of Focus Ireland, said the lack of affordable housing, coupled with continued economic pressures, had forced people to the brink.

He also called for the introduction of rent control as rents have increased by as much as 20pc in the past year.