‘Beds were available’ for all rough sleepers in Dublin on Sunday
Varadkar defends record after Adams claims 300 children homeless since he became Taoiseach
Leo Varadkar said a further €18m had been added to the budget for homelessness services next year to bring it to €118m. File photograph: David Ryder/Reuters
Emergency beds were available for every person sleeping rough in Dublin on Sunday, one of the coldest nights of the year, the Dáil has heard.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there was adequate capacity in the system and an analysis by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive on December 10th showed that 10 beds for females were unused and there was one male bed vacancy in the capital.
He highlighted the provision of 200 emergency beds in Dublin and said a further €18 million had been added to the budget for homelessness services next year to bring it to €118 million.
Mr Varadkar said that the number of families in bed and breakfast and hotel accommodation was down substantially with the development of family hubs.
He was responding to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams who said that there were 300 more children in emergency accommodation since Mr Varadkar had become Taoiseach.
Mr Adams mentioned a protest outside the Dáil on Tuesday by the homelessness campaign My Name Is.
The Louth TD said eight people had died on the streets since August and there were parts of the State “where there are no emergency beds and no facilities that are suitable for some of our citizens who are forced to sleep on the streets”.
He questioned why the Government only agreed to buy 600 of the vacant homes offered to the Housing Agency in “turn-key condition” banks, funds and others in the past year.
Mr Varadkar said he understood “a lot of these homes were not in areas where there was a high level of demand for social housing so they were not all suitable for social housing”.
He later clarified that 1,600 and not 1,800 houses were offered to the Housing Agency. The 1,000 were not bought for a number of reasons including unsuitability for social housing or that they were bad value for taxpayers’ money “due to excessive cost”; they were withdrawn from sale or there were legal complications due to title or planning issues.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin highlighted a report in The Irish Times that buyers of new homes were at risk of losing their deposits because contracts used by developers no longer had protection clauses.
He said “a subject-to-loan-closure clause used to be standard in contracts”, he said but “now somebody who has made a deposit but for some reason cannot raise the loan will lose the deposit”.
He asked if amending legislation on conveyancing would deal with the issue. Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said work was at an advanced stage on the Courts and Land Conveyancing (Amendment) Bill which would be published in the spring.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett pointed to a decision on Wednesday by a number of trade unions, political parties and housing organisations to hold a major demonstration on April 7th to “try to pressure the Government to abandon failed policies of relying on the private sector”.
He said CSO figures showed an 86 per cent rise in property prices along with an 80 per cent rise in rents.
But Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy insisted “we do not rely on the private sector. This year we will support more than 21,000 new social housing tenancies.”
He said the Government worked with stakeholders, housing bodies and NGOs “who are our partners in the voluntary sector to end the scourge of homelessness”.
Mr Murphy said that the Rebuilding Ireland plan for 2020 and 2021 showed that “more houses will be built, bought or long-term leased by the State into State stock”.