Una Mullally: Ploy to normalise homelessness must stop

It is a mistake to try and minimise a problem that the public can see growing worse

Speaking at Fine Gael's National conference Leo Varadkar defended his parties record on homelessness record saying that it 'has one of the lowest levels of homelessness' compared to other countries.

Another week, another batch of frustration and anger about housing and homelessness. The public has high demands – unrealistic, some politicians might say. Perhaps we don’t know the full picture. Maybe we just don’t “get” all the work and funding that’s going into the issue. Unfortunately for politicians, for the public the proof of the pudding will always be in the eating.  

A domino was tipped when the Taoiseach said we have a relatively low rate of homelessness compared with our “peer countries”. What does that mean? It’s a vague and unsubstantiated claim that hasn’t been backed up by figures. It’s also difficult to compare homelessness from country to country due to the different ways of measuring homelessness and the different kinds of homelessness measured. So why did the Taoiseach say it? And why does the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, repeat similar things? If you’re not going to come out with the actual data to enlighten the public on this issue, then such statements really do feel like efforts to minimise our homelessness crisis. 

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