Varadkar criticised for saying Irish homelessness rate not high

Taoiseach backs claim that housing strategy works in comparison to other countries

A claim by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that Ireland’s rate of homelessness is not high by international standards has drawn criticism from homeless organisations and the Opposition.

At a media conference at the Fine Gael national conference in Cavan, Mr Varadkar stood over his assertion that the Government’s housing strategy was working by comparing Ireland with other countries.

“Ireland has one of the lowest homelessness (rates) by international standards compared with our peers – they’re the stats, we can provide them for you.

“That is a good thing in Ireland, that we have a low level of homelessness compared to our peer countries. But what’s better than that is we don’t think that’s good enough, and we want to continue to reduce homelessness in the years ahead,” he said.


‘Turn the tide’

The Government wanted “to make sure we turn the tide” on the issue, he said.

In a tweet, the Simon Community contested the Taoiseach’s claim, saying he was not comparing like with like.

“This is not true. Other countries use a broader definition of homelessness when gathering their statistics,” it said.

Eoin Ó Broin, housing spokesman of Sinn Féin, also took issue with the Taoiseach’s comments: “This isn’t true. The Government only counts those in emergency accommodation and rough sleepers,” he said in a tweet.

“Others include all homeless people, including sofa surfers, involuntary sharing in unsuitable conditions.”

“The Taoiseach shows his incompetence yet again!” he claimed.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times