A photograph of a homeless family sleeping in a Dublin police station has sparked a national debate in Ireland about the country’s housing crisis.
The mother and six of her children aged between one and 11, were forced to sleep in the Tallaght Garda station.
Police said they tried every emergency line for homeless shelters and phoned a number of local hotels, but were unable to find somewhere for them to stay.
Instead, the children were forced to sleep on rows of metal chairs in the station.
Their mother, Margaret Cash, posted a picture of them on social media, alongside the caption: “Well after been 11 year on the housing list a year on the homeless dis is where my 7 kids have to sleep.”
It was widely shared on social media.
Ms Cash later told The The Irish Times that one of her children, who had recently been in hospital, was staying with a family friend.
“I have family but I’ve seven kids,” the 28-year-old said. “They’d take you in the odd night, but they couldn’t take you in every night.”
In a statement, the Irish police service said: “Members of An Garda Síochána tried all the emergency lines in relation to homeless shelter and no accommodation was located, a number of local hotels were also phoned. The family were cared for during the night by the members working and received a hot breakfast this morning in Tallaght GS."
It added that after leaving the station, the family had sought help from the South Dublin Co-Council, Housing Department.”
The story has added fuel to the flames of a national conversation about homelessness which has persisted as a dominant political issue in recent years and led to regular criticism of the current Fine Gael-led government.
A homelessness report from the government in June reported that there were 1,754 Irish families in emergency accommodation, including 3,824 children. A lack of council housing a affordable rental homes and an increase in luxury flats and hotels has been blamed for the problem.
After the picture of the sleeping children was widely shared, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive said in a statement that they were dealing with an “unprecedented number of families” seeking emergency accommodation.
Sinn Fein’s Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin released a statement calling on the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to take urgent action.
“No adult or child should be forced to sleep in a Garda station or a van for lack of emergency accommodation. If Government focused more on preventing these families from becoming homeless and increasing the supply of social housing to get families out of homelessness then last night’s ugly scenes would not be repeated.
Source: The Independent