Housing Minister denies homeless people are being kicked out of hotels for Christmas

Housing Minister denies homeless people are being kicked out of hotels for Christmas
File photo.

Update 3.11pm: The Housing Minister says homeless people are not being kicked out of hotels to make room for guests this Christmas.

Labour TD Jan O'Sullivan said that she has come across cases where people are being asked to leave for the holiday season.

However, Eoghan Murphy says it is scaremongering to suggest it is happening across the board.

He said: "We heard fearmongering like this ahead of the Papal visit.

"People saying that people were going to be moved out of hotels in the city centre because the Pope was coming and there would be excess demand for people to stay in hotels.

"It wasn't the case because the Dublin Region Homeless Executive puts in a huge amount of work, in advance, to protect people who are unfortunately in hotels as emergency accommodation through periods of high demand in the city.

"So we saw scaremongering like this at the Papal Visit, ahead of it, it didn't happen and it won't happen over Christmas."

Earlier: Report: Hotels ordering homeless families to leave over Christmas

There are fears that homeless families in emergency accommodation could be kicked out of hotels and B&Bs over Christmas.

Campaigners say that many establishments will either be closed or booked out over the festive period.

According to the Irish Mirror, one hotel in Dublin is already telling families to leave and come back in January, while another confirmed that it will be closed for three days.

Niamh Randall of the Simon Community said: “Everybody talks about Christmas and being at home at Christmas and it’s really, really difficult if you don’t have a secure place to call home and you’ve nowhere at Christmas to go home to.

“We need to ensure we never stop being shocked and horrified this is the norm, where a serious number of children are going to wake up without a secure place to call home this Christmas and in the New Year.”

It comes as Labour urge the Government to bring in legislation that has been waiting on a shelf for more than a year.

Labour housing spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan has accused ministers of having “no sense of urgency” in addressing the housing crisis. She was speaking after a Dublin city councillor said some homeless families should be charged up to €50 to stay in a hotel when seeking emergency accommodation.

Ms O’Sullivan said there is an attempt to “blame” homeless people for the crisis. Highlighting a December 2017 Labour bill to make it mandatory to prioritise the needs of children in homeless families, she said while the law change was accepted, the bill enacting it has been lying on a shelf for more than a year, risking families being thrown out on the streets without help this Christmas.

“Families are under huge pressure this time of year — we have nearly 4,000 children homeless, over 10,000 people,” said Ms O’Sullivan. “I was talking to a woman last week who told me she was in a hotel in Limerick with two schoolgoing children, who have been told they have to get out of their hotel because the hotel is required for Christmas.

While we passed a referendum on the rights of the child it simply hasn’t been implemented when it comes to children who are homeless. This bill will oblige the local authority to ensure families with young children have somewhere to go [if they are evicted or asked to leave emergency accommodation]. At the moment, families are being sent to garda stations or are walking around streets, because there is no priority.

Ms O’Sullivan criticised Independent Dublin councillor Ruairí McGinley, who told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme he wants to see some homeless families charged up to €50 for staying in hotels or B&Bs.

Labelling the comments as “entirely kite-flying”, Ms O’Sullivan said: “If you are homeless in a hotel you haven’t got anywhere to wash your clothes, you have to buy food you can’t prepare for yourself, so there are extra costs imposed on those already at-risk families.

“I honestly think this [Mr McGinley’s comments] is just an attempt to put some sort of blame on people who are homeless rather than ensuring something is done about it.”

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