Gardaí not trained to deal with homeless families - GRA

Garda Representative Association spokesperson John O’Keefe describes homeless crisis as ‘a national shame’

Children sleeping in a Dublin Garda station on Wednesday night after they and their young mother were forced to stay there due to lack of emergency accommodation.

Children sleeping in a Dublin Garda station on Wednesday night after they and their young mother were forced to stay there due to lack of emergency accommodation.

 

Garda Representative Association spokesperson John O’Keefe says that gardaí are not trained to deal with homeless people who turn up at garda stations seeking help.

He also described the homeless crisis as “a national shame.”

A garda station is a wholly unsuitable and inappropriate environment for children he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“It is clearly an unsuitable place for young children. While it is safe, it is equally unsafe at night. It is a place populated by rowdy drunken detainees.”

Mr O’Keefe was responding to reports that a mother and her six children slept on plastic chairs in Tallaght garda station on Wednesday night.

“Our members want to do what they can. They are caught between a rock and a hard place. They do the best they can with limited resources.

“Our concern is that they could be unsafe. We cannot get involved in the homeless crisis in the same way as other agencies.”

Families sleeping on plastic chairs in a garda station was possibly the worst outcome, he added.

Garda have no training to assist homeless people. “We’re not trained for the work we’re supposed to do, so in these cases we’re going on instinct.

“This situation is building up. This didn’t begin yesterday.”

He pointed out that in May last year there was one occasion when 12 families, including 30 children, spent the night in garda stations.

On Wednesday night gardaí in Tallaght made contact with emergency services and tried local hotels to find accommodation for the woman and her children.

Mr O’Keefe commended the gardaí involved for the care they showed the family. He said that last year there were 112 occasions when families were referred to garda stations by Focus Ireland and on 32 occasions in the first three weeks of April this year.

Members of the force “are as horrified as anyone else,” and they tried to help when they could. “We cannot turn these people out on the streets.”

He said that representatives have been made to Garda Superintendents. “As far as I know nothing has been done.”