A fresh row has broken out between the Government and opposition after Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy claimed the number of homeless families in Ireland has dropped in the past year.
Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin O Broin rejected the claim, saying the reality is there were 28 more families in emergency accommodation by the end of August than at the same time last year.
In a post-budget departmental briefing at Government Buildings, Mr Murphy said while the budget has been limited by Brexit he has ensured a number of key funding increases to help people in housing need.
Noting the extra €20m to address the homelessness crisis, the Housing Minister said: "We continue to see families and individuals in need of these supports. The number of people presenting as homeless has fallen this year, there are now less families in emergency accommodation in this time than last year. And we saw more than 5,000 people exit homelessness last year."
Mr Murphy acknowledged the reality is "others are still finding themselves in crisis, and so extra supports are needed", pointing to the €166m homeless preventing funding and the extra €20m to address the issue in next year's budget.
However, hitting out at the claim on Twitter, Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin O Broin said "this is not true" and that the reality is more families are in emergency accommodation now than at the same point in 2018.
"Figures from the Department of Housing show that in August 2018 there were 1,698 homeless families, compared to 1,726 homeless families in August 2019."
.@MurphyEoghan tells #Budget2020 press conference that there are less families in emergency accommodation this year than last. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Figures from @HousingPress show in August 2018 there were 1698 homeless families compared to 1726 homeless families in August 2019.— Eoin Ó Broin (@EOBroin) October 9, 2019
The stand-off is the latest in a long-run of public clashes between Mr Murphy and Mr O Broin over homelessness figures collated by the Government, with Mr O Broin repeatedly claiming the actual figures are far higher than officially stated.
Mr Murphy also used the post-budget press briefing to welcome the extension of the help to buy scheme for another two years, until 2021, and the decision to fund the building of 11,000 new social housing homes next year.