BARRY COWEN-APPAfter weeks of silence from the Environment Minister Alan Kelly as the homeless crisis has escalated into a full scale emergency, the formerly ‘straight talking’ minister has finally broken his silence.  However, in a defensive and bad tempered interview on RTÉ Radio One, he repeated the same series of meaningless platitudes that have been the hallmark of his approach to date.

Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Barry Cowen TD commented, “The Housing Minister has been notable by his absence over recent weeks as the homelessness emergency has unfolded on our streets.  Today, he has finally broken that silence, but anyone hoping for evidence that the issue was finally being taken seriously, will be sorely disappointed.

“Instead, we listened to a defensive and bad tempered performance where the Minister sought to blame everyone other than himself.  The responsibility for the absolute failure of strategy was variously local authorities, Phil Hogan, the Minister for Social Protection, previous Governments, the housing market, the banks…  The man whose job it is to actually design and implement a housing strategy continues to do a great job.

“The most worrying aspect of Minister Kelly’s intervention is that he appears to simply not understand what is happening on our streets.  The time for meaningless platitudes has passed – families with children have been forced to sleep in our public parks.   The Housing Minister talking about the need to ‘think outside the box’ is an insult to all of those people who do not know where they are sleeping tonight and the many others across the country who are dismayed and disgusted by what is happening.

“An attempt to manage the PR damage of the crisis through an isolated radio interview is not enough.  The Minister needs to return to his Department, show some leadership and do what is needed to make sure that this emergency is brought under control.”