Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen has criticized Minister Alan Kelly for his continued arrogance and inaction on the growing Irish homeless crisis. Deputy Cowen made the comments following the latest intervention by Minister Kelly on national radio where he criticised Fr Peter McVerry, a long time campaigner on homelessness.
Deputy Cowen commented, “I honestly could not believe what I was hearing from Minister Alan Kelly on Morning Ireland. He said he disagreed with Fr Peter McVerry, a long term campaigner on housing issues, in relation to how homelessness is being tackled by this Government. Fr McVerry has decades of experience of working with the homeless and has been doing remarkable work with limited resources. I believe what he is saying and so does every decent and honest person working to accommodate the homeless.
“There is a humanitarian crisis in Dublin City with at least 1,400 children identified as being homeless. There are hotels across the city accommodating families who have been forced to leave their homes. There are men and women who have worked hard to come off drugs that are now being forced to stay in units open to drug users, and this in itself is shameful. There is a man living in his car parked in a field to stay off drugs, and this story is replicated across the country.
“Local Authorities have waiting lists that are rising on a daily basis as people’s homes are being repossessed. Yet Minister Kelly is trying to tell the public that it is all under control and to trust him as he is dealing with the issue. What he is saying is not credible and it should be no surprise that campaigners are calling him out on his spin.
“Minister Kelly spent most of his radio interview outlining how Ireland is going to accommodate more refugees due to the escalating crisis in Europe. Of course Ireland has to play its part and do more to assist the war refugees, but we also have to step up and act with more ferocity and urgency to deal with the worsening homelessness crisis across our country.
“Fr McVerry, the Simon Community, Focus Ireland, Vincent de Paul and other organisations cannot all be wrong regarding the challenges facing families over housing. These challenges are only growing by the day while Minister Kelly continues to criticise homeless campaigners.