TD’s views on homeless ‘derogatory’

Homelessness in Dublin is at an all-time high, with more than 1,000 children homeless. Focus Ireland founder Stanislaus Kennedy called it an emergency.

A Fine Gael TD has warned against a plan to “export” or rehouse homeless Dubliners in rural areas and claims they will bring criminal behaviour to the Midlands.

Longford-Westmeath TD James Bannon surprised party colleagues when he criticised a rural resettlement scheme, saying he had learned of “social and criminal” problems as a result of people from Dublin moving to his constituency.

He said gardaí confirmed this to him and he stressed that every local authority should look after its own homeless people.

“Why should counties like Longford-Westmeath, who already have high waiting lists for social housing, take in Dublin families because their own local authorities have failed adequately to provide housing for them?” he said.

Mr Bannon said if a rural resettlement scheme was initiated, it would result in large numbers of homeless people from Dublin being moved to areas such as the Midlands counties “to make further room for Dubliners”.

“Let the Dublin local authorities look after their own and we will look after our own down the country,” said Mr Bannon, adding that Longford had experienced “social and criminal problems” due to people from Dublin moving to the area.

“It’s visited upon the county by families exported from their native environment of the city of Dublin to previously quiet towns and villages here in Longford.”

Under the scheme, homeless Dublin families will be relocated to vacant accommodation. The plans will be considered by a Cabinet sub-committee on social exclusion in the coming weeks.

Homelessness is at an all-time high in the capital, with figures last month showing more than 1,000 children from 500 families are homeless. Focus Ireland founder Sr Stanislaus Kennedy said recently that she had never seen so much homelessness.

“It’s out of control. It’s an emergency now,” she said.

Dublin families with criminal issues were being forced on rural communities, Mr Bannon claimed, again saying gardaí had confirmed this to him.

“Some of the people cause hardship and social disruption to existing communities here in the Midlands and indeed those families who’ve been uprooted from their urban environment into rural areas have caused problems in rural areas and that is factual,” he said.

Dublin Lord Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh called on the TD to retract his remarks.

“Where does he get off? What an absolutely discriminatory, derogatory, and insulting remark to make,” she said, adding that families who moved to rural areas under such a scheme did so as they wanted a better life.

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