Government TD pays for emergency accommodation for homeless family of seven

South Dublin County Council agrees to pay for hotel accommodation after Focus Ireland raises child welfare concerns

Mon, May 5, 2014, 01:00


Constituency staff of a Government TD had to pay for emergency hotel accommodation for a family of seven last week when South Dublin County Council was unable to help them, The Irish Times has learned.

A member of staff in the constituency office has confirmed that he and another member of staff paid for two rooms in a Tallaght hotel for the family last Thursday night. He asked The Irish Times not to identify the Oireachtas member.

“It’s not something we usually do, though it’s not the first time we have had to,” he said. “We just couldn’t in all conscience leave the family there in the pouring rain with nowhere to go, not with young children. So yes, we paid for a night’s accommodation for them. I have been told by the council that they have a waiting list of between 25 and 30 families for emergency accommodation.”

Last Wednesday, Damien O’Neill, his partner Susan Cooney and their children aged 19, 17, nine, seven and three had to leave the home they rented in Clondalkin after a rent increase from €1,050 per month to €1,250. Though given 28 days’ notice, they were unable to source alternative accommodation within the rent allowance cap of €1,000 a month.

Mr O’Neill said they presented at the council’s homeless unit last Wednesday morning but were told no emergency accommodation was available. A neighbour brought them to her home, where they contacted Focus Ireland. The charity sourced hostel accommodation in the city centre for them that evening.

The family presented at the council’s homeless unit the following day and were again told no emergency accommodation was available.

“They said they would pay for a hotel for the night. I didn’t want to accept it but I had no choice. We had nowhere else to go,” said Mr O’Neill.

They presented again on Friday morning. Focus Ireland raised child welfare concerns with the council on Friday afternoon and said if the council continued to refuse to accommodate the family the charity would “have to get social services involved”.

“It was only at this point that the council relented and agreed, at 4pm on a bank holiday Friday, to pay for hotel accommodation for them,” said Focus Ireland director of advocacy Mike Allen.

Mr O’Neill said the council then asked them to source hotel accommodation that it would pay for. The family is now in a hotel, with a booking until Wednesday, he said.

A spokeswoman for the council said it could not comment on an individual case.