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Minister says decommissioned cruise ships 'not suitable for homeless families'

The idea had been proposed by a Fine Gael councillor who said “imperfect ideas have become reasonable options”.

Image: Shutterstock/Busurmanov

MINISTER FOR HOUSING Eoghan Murphy has dismissed the idea of using decommissioned cruise ships as accommodation for homeless families.

The suggestion came from Fine Gael councillor for Dublin City, Paddy Smyth, who said he believes housing people on cruise ships could “make a dent in the numbers”, if it is done right.

Dublin City Council said this afternoon that the idea was considered, but added the option is “not currently being pursued”.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke Smyth said he first proposed this idea, which is a practice in other jurisdictions, to the housing department in 2016. 

It is a perfect idea? No. In an ideal world is it where we would house homeless families? No. But unfortunately we’re in a situation where self-evidently imperfect ideas become reasonable options, so I don’t think we should dismiss this out of hand.

He said in theory up to 1,000 people could be housed on a cruise ship, with facilities like a creche and a GP, until homes are built for them to move into. 

“If the optics weren’t so on the nose you could park it outside the Custom’s House,” he said. 

His party colleague and Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has, however, rejected the idea:

He said the department is pursuing additional properties to deliver emergency accommodation facilities for homeless individuals in the Dublin region. 

“A total of 200+ permanent bed spaces were introduced in 2017,” he added. “The cold weather strategy for 2018 is in preparation.”

In a statement this evening, Dublin City Council said that the possibility of leasing a cruise ship to be berthed in Dublin Port in order to provide emergency accommodation for homeless single adults in Dublin had been considered.

“It was felt that this approach would offer a number of advantages relative to other single person emergency accommodation options including speed of delivery and access to higher quality self -contained apartment type accommodation at a competitive cost,” the council said.

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However, given the council’s confidence in the ability to source sufficient additional emergency accommodation for rough sleepers this winter, it is not an option that is currently being pursued.

Another critic of the idea was homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry.

“If they were to guarantee people six months on the ship and take off and go on a cruise around the Mediterranean, I think it would be very attractive but otherwise I think it’s off the wall,” he told RTÉ.

Really, it’s not a runner. People aren’t going to live on a cruise ship, you can’t put 1,000 families onto one cruise ship. You’re not going to be able to park it anywhere close to the city centre.

“The elephant in the room here is always the thousands – the tens of thousands – of empty buildings that blight every street in every town. We have got to look at that – there we have the solution to the housing and homeless crisis,” he added. 

With reporting from Sean Murray

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