ISPCC urges plan on homelessness

There are calls for child protection authorities to intervene after the housing minister said a deadline to stop using emergency accommodation for the homeless cannot be met.

Homeless support groups said families are staying in hotels longer than ministers stay in charge of their briefs.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy admitted at a Focus Ireland event in Dublin that a pledge to end the use of hotels and B&Bs for homeless families by the end of this month will not be met.

Opposition parties and housing campaign groups have reacted in shock at the announcement and criticised the Government’s record on addressing the crisis.

Up to 650 families are still in temporary accommodation and these will be moved straight into hubs and other types of accommodation, or they will be notified of where they will be placed in the coming weeks, Mr Murphy said yesterday.

An estimated 60 new families a month are now presenting as homeless.

But the confirmation that the deadline will be missed to end the use of hotels and B&Bs by July 1 — made by former housing minister Simon Coveney — has angered the opposition and charities too.

Fianna Fáil’s housing spokesman, Barry Cowen, said child protection authorities should intervene to stop a generation of children growing up in hotels.

“It is time for Tusla to step in and call a halt to this harmful scenario,” he said. “No matter the cost, this has to end, and the Government can no longer shirk their responsibilities.”

Focus Ireland’s Mike Allen said some families are living in hotels longer than ministers are spending time in the Department of Housing.

The ISPCC said a plan to phase out the use of emergency accommodation is now required.

“There are child protection and welfare risks arising from children being placed in this type of accommodation and often no area to cook and no area to play,” said an ISPCC spokesperson.

Mr Murphy is reviewing the Government’s housing programme and intends to act on this by the end of the summer. The minister was also advised yesterday by Sinn Féin to tackle vacant accommodation to help address the housing crisis.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin launched plans to use up to 36,000 empty units, including a statutory vacant homes register, a vacant homes tax, and greater use of compulsory purchase orders.


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