The 26 County Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is again being urged to resign after his own manipulated statistics show that there are now more than 10,000 people in Ireland officially living in emergency accommodation.
The homeless emergency accommodation figures show that there are a combined total of 10,264 people homeless and living in emergency accommodation in Ireland, increasing at a rate of roughly ten people a day.
The official numbers taken over the course of one week in February show that there were 6,480 adults and 3,784 homeless children living in emergency accommodation in the State. Thousands more are no longer counted in official figures because they have not documented their status.
Campaigner Fr Peter McVerry says that the true figures are closer to 15,000, but that the actual figure is “irrelevant” because the trend is “going up and up and up.”
Minister Murphy described the figures as “disappointing”. He said the issue is “very complex” and admitted efforts to increase social housing and halt the rise in rents were not having an impact.
Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD said the government should admit its branded plan to tackle the crisis, ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ is not working.
“It is completely failing and they need to accept defeat and work with the opposition to put in place a different plan,” he said.
“It is a scandal that the Taoiseach continues lecture Sinn Féin on policy when he is presiding over a policy failure than is impacting thousands of families, children, pensioners, couples and students.
“[Fianna Fáil leader] Micheal Mártin can no longer hide in shadows talking out of both sides of his mouth. Is his party willing to continue to endorse a failing Minister and failing government policy?”
Fr McVerry pointed to a recent report from Dublin City Council that predicts that the figures are going to continue to increase for the next three years. By 2021, the government will be spending 300 million a year on emergency accommodation. A further 2 million euro is already being spent every day paying private landlords for housing.
“They should be increasing council housing. The Government is clearly on the side of the banks, the vulture funds and property owners,” he said. He also warned that “coming down the road” are 40,000 people in mortgage arrears. He described the current policy as like “emptying the bath with the taps on. They have to come up with another solution.”
Earlier this month, a march in support of homeless in Dublin drew thousands onto the streets. Amy Ní Mhurchú, a third year mature student at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology, said she had been struggling for three years to house herself and has recently become homeless.
“I’m staying on people’s couches so I’m not on the street yet, but I can only couch surf for so long,” she said. “People can only do it for so long. That’s where I am right now.”
Patsy Doolin from Sandymount, Dublin, criticised the government for housing people in “shoeboxes”, and said communities like Ringsend were being destroyed by the influx of multinational tech companies.
“It’s dreadful to look at people in the street all day having to get out of bedsits, hotels, and these places,” she said. “It’s really disgraceful. This country is a crying shame. That government hasn’t got a clue. They must have been all reared in castles.
“You see, the whole community in Ringsend will die. We have a tradition down there of GAA, soccer and rowing clubs. If children aren’t going to be around to get involved, that tradition will die.”
Solidarity TD Mick Barry suggested that the next planned Raise The Roof National housing demonstration on 18 May to be built into a massive anti-Government protest.
“No Government which allows homelessness to go over the 10,000 mark deserves to remain in power,” Barry said, adding that Fine Gael needs “to be given a hammering at the ballot box in May”.