Bid made to remove family from homeless hub on Christmas Eve
Family of five told to leave Dublin homeless accommodation over ‘ongoing incidents’
Amanda Ruttledge (47) and her four sons were told on Christmas Eve to leave the homeless-family hub in which they had been living. Photograph: Jack Power
An attempt was made to remove a mother and her four children from a homeless-family hub on Christmas Eve, where they had been living for the past year.
Amanda Ruttledge (47) and her four children, the youngest of which are twin boys aged 10, were told on Monday by staff at the Anna Livia family hub that they had to leave the accommodation that day.
Ms Ruttledge is from South Africa, and has been living in Ireland since 2000. She was made homeless in 2016 when her landlord sold the property she had been renting, and the family has lived in the family hub since January. The hub is located on O’Connell Street, and the premises was formerly Lynam’s Hotel.
On Monday, gardaí were called to the hub to inform Ms Ruttledge she must vacate the homeless accommodation. However the family has not yet left the hub.
Family hubs were introduced as alternatives to homeless families living in bed and breakfast or hotel rooms, and provide kitchen and recreation facilities, as well as social-worker supports. The family was told they could move to an emergency accommodation bed and breakfast room in Glasnevin, north Dublin.
My children, they are nervous, all of us . . . It’s like we are living in pain
When her children heard the family had been told to leave their accommodation, one of the youngest boys ran and hid under the blankets of his bed, Ms Ruttledge told The Irish Times.
“My kids are very upset, especially the 10 year olds,” she said, adding Christmas Day had been a “nightmare”.
“My children, they are nervous, all of us . . . It’s like we are living in pain,” she said. “I’m lost right now, I’m not myself at all.”
A source working in homelessness services, who is aware of the case, said the decision to remove the family followed “child safety concerns” for Ms Ruttledge’s children. There had also been “aggressive behaviour” towards staff from people connected to the family, the source said.
The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), which oversee family hubs and emergency accommodation, said the decision to remove the family by staff managing the hub was “due to a number of past and ongoing incidents”.
“In order to be cognisant of the safety of all residents and staff in the facility, alternative accommodation has been sourced for this family,” a DRHE spokeswoman said.
Anna Livia is one of several family hubs run by private operators, and homeless charity Focus Ireland provides social-worker support to the residents. Staff managing the hub said they would not be making any comment on the case.
If they are doing it to me, I don’t care. But it is my kids, who are born here – they have rights like any other kids
Gardaí were called to the hub shortly before 5pm on Christmas Eve, and questioned Ms Ruttledge about when she would be vacating the centre. Speaking to The Irish Times afterwards, she said she felt “humiliated” by the two gardaí, and had been made to “feel like a criminal”.
Ms Ruttledge said tensions between her family and staff managing the hub came to a head last Saturday. She was on her way back from Dundalk on a bus, and had left her two youngest boys with her oldest son (22).
However, her eldest son had to leave for work and left the two children in the sitting room of the family hub, she said. Ms Ruttledge said she then received a call from staff in the centre, informing her the children were on their own, and staff would be calling gardaí. Two days later she was informed by staff she would have to leave the accommodation, she said.
“We don’t ask much. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke,” Ms Ruttledge said. “If they are doing it to me, I don’t care. But it is my kids, who are born here – they have rights like any other kids,” she said. “I’m not afraid. If I did something wrong then I would be afraid.”