THE Ballyea-born leader of Ógra Fianna Fáil has said the tragic death of a homeless man, Jonathan Corrie, just 50m from the gates of Leinster House, is a stark reminder of the homeless crisis that is engulfing the country.
Eoin Neylon said the Government has neglected the crisis for too long and its failure to put in place a realistic housing policy has only made matters worse.
“This tragic death should serve as a reminder to all of the ongoing homeless crisis that is engulfing our country. It is harrowing to think that a person can die while sleeping rough on our streets in 21st century Ireland. It should not take the death of an individual for the Government to recognise the true extent of the homeless crisis. In fact, this case sadly reflects the fate of Polish man Josef Paveka in Ennis last year.
“We have been calling for greater investment in emergency accommodation services and social housing schemes since the onset of this crisis, yet the Government has failed to adequately resource services,” he claimed.
“Voluntary organisations can only do so much with the limited resources at their disposal,” he said, adding, “It is clear that the Government has been too slow to respond to the homeless crisis. The complete lack of a realistic housing policy has seen the most vulnerable put at risk of becoming homeless, with unbearable pressure also being placed on voluntary services”.
He noted that the Government’s recent long-term social housing announcements are a welcome development. “However, being homeless is already a reality for over 160 people each night in Dublin alone. There has been a 20% increase in the number of people sleeping rough since last year. Countless others face the possibility of becoming homeless in the immediate future and recent months have seen entire families end up on the street. These people cannot wait until 2017 for government support. They need immediate assistance.”
Mr Neylon said Ógra Fianna Fáil will be putting in place a campaign in the coming weeks to highlight the extent of the homeless crisis.
“As part of this campaign, Ógra will be bringing forward short-term policy proposals for consideration by the Government. These proposals will aim to ensure that at, the very least, everyone has access to emergency accommodation, with the view to bridging the gap between now and 2017,” he concluded.
By Ron Kirwan