Ireland: 'A national shame' - Government's response to homelessness criticised after boy (5) pictured eating dinner on street - - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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Ireland 'A national shame' - Government's response to homelessness criticised after boy (5) pictured eating dinner on street

18:20  17 october  2019
18:20  17 october  2019 Source:   independent.ie

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Homeless Street Cafe's picture of 'Sam' eating dinner on the street Homeless Street Cafe's picture of 'Sam' eating dinner on the street

CHILD homelessness has been branded a "national shame" after a photograph was posted online showing a homeless boy eating dinner on the street.

Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty heavily criticised the Government's response to homelessness and asked Tánaiste Simon Coveney how the country could be expected to accept such a situation.

Simon Coveney wearing glasses and a suit and tie: Tanaiste Simon Coveney. Photo: Reuters Tanaiste Simon Coveney. Photo: Reuters Mr Coveney said: "I don’t accept it and nobody in this House should.

"No five-year-old child should be eating their dinner from a piece of cardboard on the street."

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The Homeless Street Cafe shared this image on its Facebook page that shows the young boy eating his dinner off a cardboard box on a main street in the 'We are home after another incredibly busy night. I'm exhausted, weary and emotional and should (guiltily) go to bed BUT there is an image burnt

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But he also defended the Government's record in helping people to exit homelessness and iin ncreasing the supply of housing.

It comes after a Dublin volunteer group, Homeless Street Cafe, posted a photograph of the boy - who it dubbed 'Sam' - on social media on Tuesday night.

Mr Doherty said it showed the people behind the homelessness statistics. He added that it also showed a life "without a home, without the comfort and security that should be a right for children in this state".

He said there are more than 4,000 children like Sam in emergency accommodation who are "condemned to this type of nightmare".

He claimed the Government was seeking to "bamboozle" the public with housing statistics, but said there was a "dark reality" to a housing crisis that meant there were more than 10,000 people in emergency accommodation.

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If no government action is taken this crisis is likely to deepen." The numbers did not include those living in emergency accommodation such as night shelters. Green Party social housing spokesperson Marama Davidson wanted a "complete overhaul" of the Government ' s approach to homelessness .

Pearse Doherty wearing a suit and tie: Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty (Niall Carson/PA) © PA Archive/PA Images Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty (Niall Carson/PA) Mr Doherty accused the Government of failing parents and children, added that was "a national shame". He asked: "How can we expect or accept this as a nation? How can your Government stand over this?"

Mr Coveney said: "We live in a country that does not accept that."

He said the Government would spend €163m on homeless services next year, which he said was a large increase since his time as housing minister.

"Ultimately, what we need to do here is ensure that Sam and little boys like him have security, safety, predictability to allow their parents to look after them knowing that they have a safe tenancy or a home that they can call their own."

  'A national shame' - Government's response to homelessness criticised after boy (5) pictured eating dinner on street He insisted that was what the Government was working towards.

"It makes me angry when I see that the supports that are there are not succeeding in ensuring that little boys like Sam don’t find themselves in the position that they were a few nights ago," Mr Coveney added.

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The Tánaiste said progress was being made on taking people out of homelessness - with almost 8,000 adults and their families doing so since the start of 2018.

He said that homelessness - particularly for children - was not acceptable and ending it would continue to be prioritised.

Mr Coveney said 10,000 social housing units were being delivered this year and more than 11,000 were planned for 2020.

Mr Doherty criticised the Government and Fianna Fáil for opposing a plan to enshrine the right to housing in the Constitution.

The Tánaiste argued that the Government's policies were succeeding in increasing the supply of social, affordable and private housing, "in most cases quite dramatically".

"The idea that all of this is solved by putting a provision in the Constitution without the homes to back that up is just nonsense," he added.

"I have no problem with changing our Constitution when it comes to housing, but I do have a problem with saying that that is going to solve Sam’s problem as a five-year-old child.

"We need to put in practical solutions that are emergency solutions while we put in place medium- and long-term solutions in terms of correcting the supply problem in the housing market."

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What other cities can learn from Los Angeles' homelessness crisis .
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