A mother whose partner drowned last year is sleeping in her car with her five children because she is unable to source emergency accommodation from Cork City Council.

Jennifer O’Regan has been sleeping in her car outside Kilcully cemetery in Cork - where her partner is buried - with her children who range in age from 15 to 3 because she has hit a “brick wall” with the local authorities.

Ms O’Regan, who is originally from Farranree in Cork, says she previously lived in Britain and moved back to Ireland 15 months ago arising out of domestic violence issues.

Focus Ireland got her accommodation but it was in an “isolated” town in Clare where she and her children were without the support of her family.

She moved back to her native Cork three months ago and has been attempting to access emergency accommodation from the local authority.

She lived in a local authority house in Cork more than a decade ago and upon her return to Cork she found out that she was in arrears on her rent.

She claims she is paying the local authority back by having a small portion of money deducted from her One Family supplement.

Ms O’Regan says she is “not looking for the keys of a house”. She is happy to take accommodation of any kind whether it be a hostel, a B&B or Edel House.

Michael O’Driscoll, with Charlene, just moments before he drowned last June.
Michael O’Driscoll, with Charlene, just moments before he drowned last June.

“My kids are 15, 13, 11, 5 and 3. My partner drowned last year and my eldest girl saw the drowning. My name is on the list for housing at City Hall but they (the homeless services) say they can’t give me temporary accommodation because they are waiting on an assessment on me.

“I have gone through the assessment at City Hall and it is taking weeks.

“I am a good parent. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I will take anything they give me once it’s a roof over our heads. My mother isn’t well and there is no room for all of us.

“My brother Gavin died seven years ago. He was only 31. As a family we have been to hell and back.”

Ms O’Regan says her children are happy to be back in Cork because she has a good family and they are doing their best to help her. Her eldest children are going to school and are doing their end of year exams amid a backdrop of homelessness: “They are doing exams and trying to cope with all of this. They are delighted to be back in Cork. It is all they ever wanted. All we want is a roof over our heads. I am happy to take a place in line for a house. I just want somewhere to go to right now.”

Ms O’Regan’s father, Thomas, said he is very disillusioned with a political system which allows a single mother of five to become homeless: “The Leo Varadkars and the Simon Coveneys aren’t doing anything for the ordinary working class man. It feels like they are totally against us.”

Cork City Council said: “We cannot comment on individual cases but many cases are complex and require the intervention of more than one agency to meet the need of the client. All presentations for emergency accommodation are to the Homeless Persons Unit which is run for the local authority by the Community Welfare Service, Department of Social Protection. Each case is considered on its own merits and the decisions are made as to what is appropriate to the individual or family presenting.”

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