Dáil told people still being refused emergency accommodation in Dublin

TD insists homeless are being denied beds despite Minister’s instructions that they must be accommodated

Homeless people, including those fleeing domestic abuse, are still being turned away from emergency accommodation in Dublin, the Dáil has been told.

Social Democrats housing spokesman Cian O’Callaghan made the claim as Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien insisted that he had given clear instructions to local authorities and the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive that nobody should have to sleep rough.

It emerged in an RTÉ Investigates programme that in December people from outside the capital were refused hostel accommodation because they did not have a “local connection”.

The Minister told the programme he gave “clear directions” in writing last month that “local connection” must not be a barrier to getting a bed. Mr O’Brien stressed that this was not discretionary.


To his knowledge there was one case last Sunday but that was resolved immediately, Mr O’Brien said.

However, Mr O’Callaghan said the practice was continuing last week “People fleeing domestic violence are also being refused shelter based on these rules.”

The Dublin Bay North TD said the matter may be under review but this was “simply not good enough for people sleeping rough last night and tonight”.

He called for “explicit instructions” to “end this cruel and inhumane practice”.

Mr O’Brien said the cases highlighted in the programme “should not have happened and I said that very clearly”.

He added that “there are other elements in each of those incidents which I can’t go into here either, that did occur that evening as well”.

“There is capacity in all our major cities, and we are funding 300 extra beds in this city.”

The Minister told Mr O’Callaghan that “if you know of a specific incident where an individual [is refused accommodation] pick up the phone and ring me. You haven’t done that. I would encourage you to do so.”

He also asked if the Social Democrats TD contacted outreach teams “and brought it to their attention, and I hope you have and if you haven’t I urge you to do so”.

When Mr O’Callaghan said he had been bringing it to the Minister’s attention for several months, Mr O’Brien said he had not seen “any specific cases from you” since December.

Cold weather

Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan said that the Minister's letter only related to the cold weather period and legislation was needed to ensure an obligation, "not maximum discretion", to provide emergency accommodation where the alternative is sleeping rough.

She also called for proper training for staff in emergency accommodation to deal with people who are “deeply vulnerable”.

Ms Hourigan, the Green Party’s finance spokeswoman, also pointed to the massive increase in the homeless accommodation budget from €96 million in 2015 to €200 million in 2020.

She said this was partially due to the increase in private emergency accommodation which was being advertised as returning 100 per cent annual profit on its running costs and with a 10-year contract with Dublin City Council.

There was insufficient oversight of private accommodation, she said, and “we need to be reducing emergency accommodation”.

The Minister said they were doing this, and 3,600 voids – boarded up units – had come back into the system.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times