Family with three children sleeping rough in Dublin

The family, with children aged 5, 4 and 2, were sleeping around Mountjoy Square

A family with three children  under the age of six were sleeping rough around Mountjoy Square in Dublin last night. Photograph: Alan Betson

A family with three children under the age of six were sleeping rough around Mountjoy Square in Dublin last night. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Three children under the age of six slept rough with their parents in Dublin last night, according to organisations working with the homeless.

The Inner City Helping the Homeless group (ICHH), a grassroots group which brings food and clothes to people sleeping rough, say they came across the family – a couple in their 30s with children aged 5, 4 and 2 years, in the Mountjoy Square area at about 11.30pm.

Anthony Flynn, founder of ICHH, said his group got a call from a member of the public about the family at about 11pm.

He said the family, from the Rialto area of Dublin, had been evicted from their accommodation in recent weeks as the home was being repossessed. The family had sought help from the Cappucin Day Centre in the city centre on Monday, he said, and they had been referred on to the Dublin City Council’s central placement unit to seek emergency accommodation.

However, none was available, according to Mr Flynn and Focus Ireland which has also had contact with the family.

Mr Flynn says the central placement unit issued the family with sleeping bags.

“We went to the location and found two children in sleeping bags on a bench and the baby asleep in a buggy, with their parents standing guard over them.”

“This should not have happened. Someone was not doing their job last night.”

Focus Ireland said the fact this, and other families, have had to sleep rough shows the family homelessness crisis was “spiralling into a national emergency”.

Mike Allen, director of advocacy, called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to get centrally involved in addressing the situation. “The family homeless crisis is getting out of control and must now be treated as a national emergency.

“The Government needs to send a clear directive to all local authorities that where a family is assessed as being homeless they must be found emergency accommodation for the night. The Government needs to fund the costs arising from this separately from the annual homelessness budget.

“Let us be crystal clear here. We are talking about fathers and mothers being left sleeping in cars with their children or even on a bench on the street. We do all we can to prevent this but I am sure anyone would agree this situation is not only untenable it is also totally unacceptable.”

It is understood the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, which co-ordinates homeless services in the city on behalf of the four local authorities, is investigating how the family came to be sleeping rough.

When a family with children presents as homeless at the CPU and they are assessed as homeless, protocol dictates that emergency accommodation should be found for them.

The number of homeless families with children has been increasing exponentially since last summer however, with 1,122 children in 531 families in emergency accommodation at the end of June. This compares with 264 families with 567 children in emergency accommodation in June last year.

In circumstances where no emergency accommodation is available a family is given a list of approved hotels and asked to try and source their own accommodation for which the DRHE will pay.

It is unclear what happened in the circumstances of this family. If unable to source accommodation from this list they may present at a Focus Ireland’s drop-in centre, which may be able to find accommodation or they may present at a Garda station.

However, presentation at a Garda station may result in the children being taken into care, a scenario many parents would wish to avoid.