Children are not being protected by Government housing policy with various reports showing thousands of families forced to sleep in cars, in friends’ sitting rooms, or in cramped B&B rooms.
This is the view of Fianna Fáil Galway East TD, and spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte, who was speaking following a recent report by the Ombudsman for Children, Niall Muldoon, that children are not being protected by Government housing policy.
The report examines a complaint made in 2014 by a parent who was forced to leave her home with her children as a result of domestic violence. Following this they spent just under two years in emergency accommodation. According to the report, the family was forced to sleep on “blood-stained mattresses” while in emergency accommodation, with no space for children to play or for the mother to "prepare a decent meal."
However Dep Rabbitte said, "This is a common story in Ireland", and referred to a 2015 report by SAFE Ireland - an organisation working to protect women and children affected by domestic violence - that in many local authorities, women and children who leave home due to domestic violence are not seen as homeless as they technically have a home. This is despite the fact they are unable to safely return to that home.
The Portumna-based TD said this is an "appalling" situation, especially in the context of the State's ongoing rental and homeless crisis. She is now calling on the Minister for Children, Catherine Zappone, to ensure such families are "prioritised immediately" and to "spell out her plan" to deal with this issue
“This Government has no empathy for the needs of these families," she said. "They continue to refuse to build social housing, and all the while there are thousands of families who are forced to sleep in cars, in friends’ sitting rooms, or in cramped B&B rooms."