Sinn Féin has presented a dossier on the homelessness scandal to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said Leo Varadkar was living in a ‘Tory Boy’ bubble over the housing crisis.
The Sinn Féin leader clashed with the Taoiseach in the Dail following media coverage of the plight of a homeless boy. An Irish Daily Mirror report featured Kevin Maughan’s sad and poignant letter in which he wrote: “Santa, my name is Kevin, please come to the hotel again with Batman toys.”
The seven-year-old lives in emergency accommodation in Ennis, County Clare, with his parents and little sister Shakira, who is six.
Mrs McDonald challenged the Taoiseach over the story in Leaders’ Questions this week. Varadkar was forced to promise Santa would find Kevin and others without homes this Christmas.
The plight of the Maughan family arose from a damning dossier on the homelessness scandal - The Humans Of The Housing Crisis - compiled by Sinn Féin which they presented to Mr Varadkar and Minister Eoghan Murphy.
Mrs McDonald added: “This document is a catalogue of heartbreak, trauma and shattered dreams. It has been caused by the Taoiseach’s Government.”
Mr Varadkar then responded with the claim that Santa would get to Kevin.
He said: “We all acknowledge the human stories around homelessness and the appalling impact homelessness has on both parents and families. I share the Deputy’s concern about children who, in the run-up to Christmas, are concerned about whether Santa will be able to find them on Christmas Eve.
“He will find them and the same goes for children in hospitals, emergency accommodation, hotels or who are at home with their parents.”
But an angry Mrs McDonald did not believe Mr Varadkar was being sincere. She said: “People outside of politics have said to me the problem with the housing, homelessness and rental and affordability crises is that the Government does not care.
“At times I challenged that assertion because nobody wants to turn this into a personalised battle.
“However, when I observe the reactions of the head of Government and his colleagues - some of whom are smirking - to the human stories of loss and heartbreak, which are casualties of their failed policies, it raises the question of whether the Taoiseach cares?”
The exchange came as Sinn Féin advanced a motion for a rent freeze in the state, which has passed its second reading. It became heated as Mr Varadkar accused Mrs McDonald of not caring about the housing crisis - because of Stormont.
He hit back: “I care much more about these issues than Deputy McDonald does.” He said he was basing this on Sinn Féin’s collapse of the Stormont Assembly over DUP corruption three years ago.
Mrs McDonald responded: “The Taoiseach has no compassion. He is in his little Tory Boy bubble with his colleagues.”