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'It's a disgrace': Brother Kevin blasts moving homeless out of Dublin for Pope visit

The founder of the Capuchin Day Centre says Pope Francis would be entirely against homeless being moved out of the capital.

Image: Alessandra Tarantino

Updated Aug 10th 2018, 7:40 PM

BROTHER KEVIN CROWLEY of the Capuchin Day Centre says it’s a disgrace that homeless people are being moved out of emergency accommodation in Dublin during the visit of Pope Francis.

“I feel absolutely disgusted to think that Pope Francis is being used for getting these people out of emergency accommodation,” the Capuchin Day Centre founder said on Drivetime on RTE Radio One.

“If there’s one thing for certain, that’s one of the things that Pope Francis would be entirely against,” he added.

It annoys me to think [of] all that money that was given to all those hotels down through the year and now just because the Pope is arriving here they want to make more money and then forget about the poor and the homeless and to put them on the street. I’m disgusted to think that the government will allow such a thing to happen. They should provide proper accommodation for these people.

Earlier today Minister for Health, Simon Harris, was asked by reporters about how the Pope’s visit will affect the homeless crisis.

Speaking to reporters in Arklow, the minister said that it was his understanding that the homeless executive had pre-booked emergency accommodation and was looking outside the Dublin area “to make sure there is adequate accommodation”.

The response drew harsh criticism from Brother Kevin, who asked how long will it take for the people to be moved back into the accommodation if they are moved out.

“I think it’s all very fine for the minister to say ‘look, we’ll get some place for them,’” he said.

But I know for certain that people, mothers and children, after being put of a hotel, will still have to walk the streets looking for some accommodation.

The DRHE said in a statement today that it closely monitors the demand for emergency accommodation and have contingency plans in place that provide additional bed capacity when required.

“Such plans were successfully activated during storm Ophelia, Emma etc and more recently during the concerts in the Phoenix Park. Plans such as these will be activated as and when required during the Papal visit.

“The DRHE actively pursues all accommodation options which may include providing accommodation outside the Dublin Region, to ensure that families are provided with emergency accommodation when needed.

“Furthermore we have been working closely with private emergency accommodation providers and have pre-booked rooms/facilities for the weekend of the Papal visit,” a  spokesperson for the DRHE said.

Speaking on the News at One yesterday, Eileen Gleeson, director of the DRHE said that the upcoming papal visit “may involve us having to take people and put them in accommodation outside of the pressure points and move them to outside of the Dublin region”.

The papal visit in my understanding is 36 hours, so it’s one night in a hotel room.

“If that’s what’s required, that’s what we will do and we have a plan in place to do that,” she said.

Sleeping on chairs

Minister Harris was also the first cabinet Minister to comment on the photograph that emerged yesterday of a family of young children sleeping on chairs in Tallaght garda station.

Harris said he didn’t think there was anyone in the country that wasn’t upset to see the scenes in the garda station on Wednesday.

“For any mother to feel that she needs to go to a garda station with her own children to seek emergency provision, is obviously something that simply isn’t right,” Harris said.

Harris said that the government’s priority is on working with the social housing shortage in this country.

Eoghan Murphy is working extraordinarily hard in that regard.

Margaret Cash (28) and six of her children, aged from one to 11, spent the night in Tallaght Garda Station in Dublin on Wednesday after failing to secure emergency accommodation.

Speaking to 98FM this morning, Margaret said that she has now secured temporary accommodation for herself and six of her children until Monday, with the help of Inner City Helping Homeless.

homeless-family-4-390x285 Photo of the children who spent the night in Tallaght Garda Station, which the mother asked to be shared online. Source: ICHH

The Health Minister also told reporters the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) puts emergency solutions in place for a number of families but that it was very important that they continue to communicate how you can access those solutions “so no one finds themselves in a garda station”.

Speaking on RTÉ News at One, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys also commented on the photograph of the young family.

“No one wants to see children sleeping on seats in a garda station, I do understand they were offered accommodation and they didn’t take up that offer.”

Referencing Rebuilding Ireland, which allows 1,000 prospective homeowners who don’t qualify for social housing to buy a house with a government-backed mortgage, Humphreys said:

We have a plan in place, it is working, it is going to take time.

With reporting by Céimin Burke

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