The number of children attending the Capuchin day centre in Dublin for meals between 2011 and 2015 increased by over 82 per cent while there was a rise of more than 40 per cent in food distributed over the same period.
According to figures released on Tuesday, 8,000 children attended the centre for food last year compared to 4,389 in 2011, an increase of 82. 27 per cent. In total 272,000 “food units” were served there in 2011 compared to 380,500 in 2015, an increase of 110,200 or 40.72 per cent.
Over the same five year period, inclusive, the number of food parcels distributed more than doubled, from 52,000 in 2011 to 108,500 in 2015. Meals served at the centre rose from 218,400 in 2011 to 272,000 last year.
According to Br Kevin “there are more people at risk of dying on the side of the road tonight than when I started the centre in 1969”.
He pleaded with whoever may be in government after the general election to reinstate the resources and compel local authorities to retrieve responsibility for building quality housing with statutory obligation of normal security of tenure, based on people’s accommodation needs.
Br Kevin said that if local authorities employ construction workers directly (as in the past) it would not only create decent employment in the sector, but would have the effect of giving a kick start to the economy.
The campaigning priest added that such a policy initiative would also eliminate profiteering opportunities in the building sector that got us into trouble in the first place.
Worried about the impact on accommodation of returning immigrants, he asked “where are the 70,000 emigrants that the Government is talking of luring back to the country going to live? Yet again will the more vulnerable accommodation seekers be pushed further to the bottom in trying to secure a home for their families?”
Br Kevin has recently questioned the depth of the economic recovery. There was “no difference whatsoever” when it came to the fortunes of those he encounters every day.
That very morning “we had about 300 for breakfast and we’ll have something in region of about 500 for dinner in the afternoon”.
He added that “as well as that a family came into me who were on the verge of being evicted. Six in the family and no food. Desperate! The wife was crying. The husband has lost his job . . . it’s impossible for him to find work.”