Minister denies Government tried to underplay scale of homeless crisis

The Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has responded to claims that the Government is trying to downplay the scale of the homeless crisis.

Mr Murphy says the idea that the Government might try to hide it from the public does not take the amount of time and resources dedicated to it into account.

The Government has been criticised for publishing homeless figures last Friday evening, just before the Bank holiday weekend.

In a statement today, Minister Murphy said the country is currently "dealing with unprecedented levels of homelessness."

"The idea that the Government might try to hide this from the general public, seek to downplay the scale or turn away from it, does not take account of the huge amount of time and resources already being dedicated to this crisis," he said.

He said the recent announcement of an additional €10m in funding would see the introduction of more emergency 'family hubs' which will be able to accommodate an additional 200 families.

He said the Dublin Region Homeless Executive is also working on several policies that will deliver more than 150 additional emergency spaces.

He insisted the emergency measures are being taken while longer term solutions are found.

The Rebuilding Ireland plan has ring-fenced €5.3bn for housing and homelessness plans up until 2021.

The minister said those plans are currently under review and will be brought forward for debate in the Oireachtas "shortly."

It comes as the Construction Industry Federation says the Government needs to invest more in infrastructure to help solve the crisis.

Its Director General, Tom Parlon, said: "The worst manifestation of it is in homelessness and in the housing crisis.

"Part of the reason that housing is not viable at the moment is because there is a fairly severe infrastucture deficit in terms of bridges, access roads, water and waste water."

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