Confusion has arisen over responsibility for the provision of emergency housing for tenants made homeless by a fire at a privately-owned apartment in Cork last weekend.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy’s office said it is the duty of a local authority to provide emergency evacuation and temporary shelter.
Cork City Council officials challenged the minister’s office, stating its responsibility is confined to a fire occurring in social housing or in a major emergency.
“Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with the local authorities,” insisted the minister’s office.
According to the Major Emergency Management plans on evacuation published in 2015, councils are tasked with evacuation and the provision of rest centres in major emergencies. However, last Saturday’s fire did not meet such criteria, Cork City Council said. “A major emergency was not declared at this incident by fire services,” City Hall said.
Firemen attending the scene reportedly believe the fire began in the basement of the building in Parkview Terrace in Wellington Road. Tenants were evacuated and told they could only return to collect possessions.
The evacuees, including a mother with five-week-old twins, were referred by Cork City Council’s housing department to the Department of Social Protection’s Homeless Unit and asked to arrange their own emergency accommodation this week.
“The family in question did contact Cork City Council on Monday regarding their circumstances,” City Hall said. “There were advised that if they had no option of alternative accommodation and were homeless, to present at The Homeless Persons Unit for assistance.”
Mum-of-four Kristina Jagelovica and her family have been housed for three nights in Jury’s Hotel, but remain unsure of where they will be accommodated this weekend.
Up to 12 people resided in the property which could take two to six months to be ready for letting.
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