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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 833 No. 1

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  3 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny] He had been homeless for ten years. Given the extent of the public funding of these agencies, I just do not understand how that can be. We have got to find out the answers to these questions. People are entitled to have a roof over their heads, a home they can call their own and be able to get on with their lives. Some require attention, assistance and support because of a variety of complications, as the Deputy is well aware. Her question is valid but I want her to understand the Minister of State is focusing on this and will report to the Government. She will meet representatives of the homelessness agencies in the near future to determine what precisely the programme is, how we can get to a point where Dublin City Council can assist with vacant, dilapidated and decrepit buildings, what the social housing provision will be and the figures pertaining to families who are homeless and obviously caught in the trap of pressure and demand. Rents are now increasing all over Dublin and this is causing serious pressure for some of the families.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins We know what the needs are. Some 90,000 families are on the waiting list nationally. In Dublin alone, there are 16,100 families on it. This amounts to approximately 170,000 individuals, which is the population of Wexford and Leitrim combined. This is not a question of having discussions or waiting for a month or three weeks to have a meeting. The problem needs to be addressed now; we know what the needs are. There is a housing crisis. There has been a 60% increase in the number of homeless over the past three years. Moreover, there are those who cannot afford to pay their rent, and the rental accommodation scheme is not an option for them. The local authorities cannot provide housing for them.

Deputy Catherine Murphy said that yesterday the housing officer in Kildare interviewed 16 families and could not take on the extra people who needed to speak to the homelessness agent. One family approached the Deputy after it having split up. They have nowhere to go. The father is currently sleeping on a couch in circumstances in which his life has already been threatened, but he cannot leave. The mother, who has fallen ill, and the nine-year-old boy are staying with a friend. There are so many such cases that an immediate, emergency response is required. We must put ourselves on a war footing. This is not something to be discussed down the line. We need to hear such a response from the Taoiseach today.

There are people experiencing homelessness. I hope none of us present will ever experience it. Many people are only a week away from homelessness. We want to see action on this and an emergency approach. It is not good enough to say discussions have been taking place over a period. Amnesty International has stated this is a human rights issue.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is wonderful for Deputy Collins to point out that there are 90,000 people on the housing list; we know that.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley It is not wonderful.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Deputy wants an immediate response. I am sure she understands that Dublin City Council or any other local authority cannot just move in on a site tomorrow and say a specified number of houses are to be built there. Things do not work like that in reality.

  This is a fuse that has been burning for quite a number of years. The Government is left to clean up another mess here. That there are 90,000 people-----

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We recognise that the construction sector-----

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley That is a lovely soundbite.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Labour Party was-----

Deputy Jim Daly: Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly Fianna Fáil has let its developer friends buy out the contract.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I thank Deputy Cowen for his comments.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Could we have order for the speaker?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The fact is that there are now 90,000 people on the housing list and they need accommodation. Every Deputy present knows well the pressure on families to move out of apartments that are too small to detached homes, particularly in greater urban areas.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy It is not that they are too small.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins They have been thrown out of their homes.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Deputy started out by talking about homelessness and then she mentioned 90,000 people.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins On the local authority waiting list.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny She should not get them confused in that there is pressure on the construction sector and pressure on for housing. We will have the full debate on housing here shortly.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley God help us.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I would like to hear Deputy Collins's proposition that will bring about an immediate response. We know from the homelessness agencies about the people who are homeless.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Government is three years in power.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We know the support, including financial support, that is being given to them.


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