Fianna Fáil Whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl has accused the Government of trying to mask the scale of the housing crisis and ‘disappear’ 77,000 people from the waiting list.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl raised the issue last week in the Dáil with the Taoiseach and commented: “Under the provisions of the new Housing Bill going through the Dáil at the moment people currently on rent allowance will move to the local authority where they will be in receipt of a housing assistance payment. Clearly, the intention of the Government is to disappear 77,000 people off the housing waiting list. Under the Bill, as envisaged, those people will no longer remain on the local authority waiting list. This is nothing more than a sleight of hand from the Government and it won’t wash.
“Homelessness is a major crisis in the country at the moment and the Government has indicated a commitment to deal with this problem yet we see this legislation being proposed in the Dáil. This lack of clarity and commitment is unacceptable.”
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl has also called on the Government to clarify if it is prepared to look at new emergency funding through a supplementary estimate for the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to address the challenge of homelessness and the associated costs.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl has said he is “struck by the fact that a significant group of people who are currently homeless in the State are women and children who have fled the family home due to domestic violence”.
The Fianna Fáil Whip has also called on the Government to “consider the Istanbul Convention, an international convention that seeks to combat violence against women. The matter is obviously linked to the homelessness issue in the country.
“The approach the Government has taken to the housing crisis in the last three years has not generated any real results for people in crisis. I know in my own county of Kildare there is a major crisis with the housing waiting list and the decisions being taken by central government are actually making matters worse. The Government needs to refocus its efforts and tackle this issue with the serious it deserves”.