Homelessness: State hugely ‘dependent’ on McVerry trust survival, Minister told

‘Substantial changes’ needed at charity, according to Dublin Region Homeless Executive

Survival of the Peter McVerry Trust was “crucial” as the State agency overseeing homeless services in Dublin was entirely “dependent” on it, the Government has been warned.

In correspondence sent to the Department of Housing as its Minister, Darragh O’Brien, was considering a large bailout for the controversy-hit charity, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) said it would “very much support the survival” of the trust.

The charity came close to collapse at several points over 2023 due to significant debts and a shortfall in income. In November Mr O’Brien secured Cabinet approval for a €15 million bailout to allow the charity to continue to provide services until next March.

In an October 28th email, a department official sought the views of the DRHE and local authorities, while the Minister was weighing up the bailout. The official asked whether they believed there would be an “alternative” to the charity providing homeless services, “if the trust is not assisted to continue”.


DRHE director Mary Hayes said the agency funded the trust to provide more than 800 beds for homeless people, as well as supporting more than 500 people who had been moved from homelessness into Housing First tenancies.

She said that despite “our shared concern” about the charity’s past governance, the agency was “confident” that issues could be addressed by ongoing reforms.

“We very much support the survival of PMVT [Peter McVerry Trust], albeit with the substantial changes needed and under way to address its financial and governance issues,” she said.

“I do not think I can stress enough however, how dependent we are on the service at this time and how crucial its immediate survival is to us as a partner in the provision of services to people experiencing homelessness, particularly rough sleepers and chronically homeless,” she said.

Ms Hayes said she did not consider it possible that other homeless charities could take over the trust’s services. “Some have indicated for some time that they would not develop further emergency accommodation … Others have indicated they do not have the capacity at this time,” she said.

The DRHE was already “heavily reliant” on private companies running emergency accommodation in Dublin, who did not provide “the higher level of support required” for long-term homeless people currently accommodated by the trust.

“As it is, we are barely able to provide sufficient accommodation and have concerns about the months ahead. Without longer-term planning, there is simply no way of meeting the needs of the people currently in PMVT accommodation,” she said.

“Not being able to offer emergency accommodation to hundreds of the most vulnerable clients, including the most chronic homeless, wheelchair users, young homeless and families is not a consideration for anyone,” she wrote. The correspondence was released to The Irish Times following a Freedom of Information Act request.

In an October 31st email, Fingal County Council chief executive AnnMarie Farrelly also advocated for the charity’s survival as the “most desirable outcome”.

Ms Farrelly, who was giving the views of the wider local authority sector, said the trust was seen as a “key provider” of homeless services. “It is unlikely that such alternative providers could be easily identified having regard to the high support needs of the clients involved,” she said.

Under the terms of the bailout, the trust has committed to drawing up a detailed plan by the end of February to put itself on a sustainable financial footing. The trust is also facing two parallel statutory investigations, by the Charities Regulator and the Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority, into financial and governance concerns.

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Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times