Housing Agency says homelessness is ‘dreadful’ but ‘normal’

Conor Skehan says Taoiseach was ‘dead right’ when he said figures in Ireland are low

The Chair of the Housing Agency says that the Taoiseach was correct in his comments at the weekend that the homeless crisis in Ireland is low by international standards.

"There is a homeless crisis in Ireland, but there is one everywhere. Our Government is not doing something wrong," Conor Skehan told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

At the Fine Gael national conference in Co Cavan at the weekend the Taoiseach said that by international standards homelessness in Ireland is low.

Mr Varadkar said the Government was committed to "turning the tide" on the issue in the months and years ahead.


The Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy told the conference that "comparatively our rates of homelessness are low when we look at our peers, and that is a good thing".

Mr Skehan said it was a mistake for governments of the past to outsource the building of social houses to the private sector.

“Homelessness is a dreadful thing, but it is normal. The key issue is how we as a society deal with it, how quickly, how effectively,” Mr Skehan said.

He said that being emotional about the issue makes it easy to manipulate.

“The Taoiseach is dead right.”

However, Niamh Randall, of the Simon Community, said that if the Government doesn't take stock of the situation then "absolutely it is doing something wrong."

She said that the homelessness figures in Ireland are “huge” by international standards.

“We need to do something differently. The private sector cannot deal with the problem. The question is, are we an economy or are we a society?”

There is a need to ensure an empathetic response, she said.

Mr Skehan said “the poor will always be among us, it’s how we deal with it.

“How we connect, how we deal with it. How, as a community we deal with it. That’s the measure of us as a society.”

Ms Randall said there was an urgent need to look at prevention which she felt would be more cost effective in the long run.

Mr Skehan claimed that money is being spent “on all the wrong things.

“We are trying to deal with the symptoms rather than the causes.”