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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
War of Words

Alan Kelly thinks Fr McVerry says 'nothing positive'. But the campaigner's never met him

The minister tasked with solving the homeless crisis and the high-profile activist don’t appear to have any working relationship.

Updated at 11.50am

THE PUBLIC DISAGREEMENT between veteran homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry and environment minister Alan Kelly continued this morning – with McVerry noting that he had never met the Labour politician.

A spokesperson for Kelly later said the minister had met McVerry’s organisation twice – and that the opportunity to meet was there.

McVerry was on Morning Ireland to talk about the continuing housing and homelessness crisis in Dublin.

Speaking about the number of homeless families in emergency accommodation, he said the numbers were only going “up and up”.

The social justice campaigner, who previously warned of a “tsunami” of homelessness, said the situation was now like a boat “drifting towards the rocks”.

“There doesn’t seem to be anybody in charge,” he said.

mcv Photocall Ireland Fr Peter McVerry Photocall Ireland

McVerry said rising rents were the primary cause of the problem and that the payments should be frozen to ensure more families aren’t left without a home.

Regarding the minister – who hosted a high-profile summit on homelessness last December and has made a number of pledges on the issue – the campaigner said the pair had never met.

Asked why not, he said the minister was fully aware of his views – and that he was open to meeting him (or meeting anyone) to try and find a solution to the problem.

ak Environment minister Alan Kelly

A spokesperson for the minister said he had met the Peter McVerry Trust twice and that the charity’s founder wasn’t there.

The statement continued:

“Minister Kelly has promised a package on rent certainty and will bring his proposals to Government asap.”

Speaking to later this morning, McVerry said his team had met with Kelly before Christmas as part of the homelessness summit at his Department.

Staff from the Trust may have met the minister at another time, he said. But he insisted there had never been an offer from Kelly to meet him personally.

“It doesn’t matter whether he meets us or not – he knows exactly what we’re saying, all the organisations working in the area.”

McVerry – who was awarded the Freedom of Dublin last year – came in for some personal criticism from Kelly back in February, when the minister accusing him of not being constructive on the issue of homelessness.

The campaigner had yet to say ”one thing positive yet in relation to anything” he said.

McVerry had previously described the coalition’s plan to end homelessness by 2016 as “Alice in Wonderland politics”.

Speaking this morning, the campaigner said he didn’t detect “any urgency” from the minister, following today’s statement.

Read: Alan Kelly thinks Peter McVerry has nothing positive to say about anything

‘Hopeless fantasy’: McVerry warns that homelessness will increase by 2016, not be eliminated

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