Just 19 TDs attend debate on child homelessness; One TD left in tears

The Dail chamber moments before the debate on child homelessness began

Just 19 TDs attended a debate on child homelessness in the Dáil this morning.

Only 13 were present at the beginning of the debate.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy was one of the three FG members to attend, while Fianna Fáil had six and Sinn Féin three.

Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan was her party’s sole representative.

Two People Before Profit TDs, Richard Boyd Barrett and Gino Kenny, along with Solidarity TD Mick Barry, Green Party TD Catherine Martin and Independents4Change TD Joan Collins were also in the chamber.

During the debate Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster became emotional as she accused the minister of inflicting misery.

Relating the story of a young homeless man she and her daughter had passed on O’Connell Street last week Ms Munster became emotional as he recalled what her daughter told her after she returned form giving him some change.

"When my daughter came back, she said: “Mam, he was crying.” He was crying because he was so cold, so miserable, so alone and he felt that nobody gave a damn about him, Minister. So I want you over Christmas to think about those children and every single person waiting to be housed in this State."

Speaking during the debate Housing Minister, Eoghan Murphy, insisted every rough sleeper would have a bed this Christmas but said beds should be available over the year not just at Christmas.

“We know that new homes are the answer and that new homes are being built but we will not be able to solve the crisis until they are built. That will take more time.

“Until those houses are built, we will treat every family and child with the utmost of care until we can get them into new homes - forever homes, as people call them. That is our ambition and what the Government is working to achieve.”

Reacting to the fact that only 19 TDs attended the debate the chief executive of Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH), Anthony Flynn, said the figure was both frustrating and extremely alarming.

"The fact that 19 members of the Dail arrived to discuss the most serious issue in Irish society today, child homelessness, is an indictment on the government.

"299 children have become homeless since the current minister took over from his predecessor Simon Coveney in June. This is unacceptable and shows a clear lack of political will to solve the crisis. Child homelessness has grown by 20% under the current government and has increased 287% in the last three years. We need to address this crisis head on."

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