Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte TD has voiced her concern over the recent finding by the Ombudsman for Children, Niall Muldoon, that children are not being protected by Government housing policy.
Deputy Rabbitte said, “This report looks at a complaint that was made in 2014 by a parent, who was forced to leave her home with her children as a result of domestic violence. Following this they spent just under 2 years in emergency accommodation which was totally unsuitable for normal family life.
“In his report, Dr Muldoon highlights how this family was forced to sleep on “blood-stained mattresses” while in emergency accommodation, with no space for children to play or for the mother to prepare a decent meal.
“Unfortunately this is a common story in Ireland. It was highlighted in a 2015 report by SAFE Ireland which is an organisation working to protect women and children who are affected by domestic violence. This report highlighted that in many local authorities, women and children who flee the family home due to domestic violence are not seen as homeless as they technically have a home. This is despite the fact that they are unable to safely return to the family home.
“To think that this is how our State treats families who have already suffered considerably harm and abuse is just appalling.
“This story is especially relevant in 2017 given the ongoing rental and homeless crisis. Indeed, in the 2016 Annual Report on Tusla, Ombudsman Peter Tyndall notes the increasing frequency of housing related complaints.
“This Government has no empathy for the needs of these families. They continue to refuse to build social housing, and all the while there are thousands of families who are forced to sleep in cars, in friends’ sitting rooms, or in cramped B&B rooms.
“I am calling on Minister Zappone to ensure that these families are prioritised immediately, and to spell out her plan to ensure that these abuses end now.”