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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 4°C
# Homelessness
Mother and one-year-old child walk streets waiting to hear about accommodation for the night
One woman was left with nowhere to go earlier this week after she says she was told her child wasn’t registered as homeless.

A HOMELESS WOMAN unable to find somewhere for her or her child to stay for the night in Dublin earlier this week is an example of what is now “a regular occurrence”, according to Focus Ireland.

The case of Margaret Cash hit the headlines last month after she and six of her children spent the night in Tallaght Garda Station after failing to secure emergency accommodation.

In fact, 21 families were forced to sleep in garda stations in the first eight months of this year, Focus Ireland director of advocacy Mike Allen said yesterday. 

One young Dublin mother was also left with nowhere to go on Tuesday night, after she was unable to find suitable emergency accommodation for her and her one-year-old baby.

She also told yesterday that she became homeless last weekend.

“I’d been staying in a friend’s house,” she said. “But I went and presented to homeless services in Tallaght [on Tuesday] and was told to ring a number at 4.30pm.”

She said that she was given food at a location in the city centre, but received a call back some hours later to say that accommodation couldn’t be arranged and she says she was told it related to South Dublin County Council incorrectly registering her child as not homeless.

The mother said: “I was walking around town at that stage. I was given a rough sleeper’s number and then got in contact with Anthony [Flynn from Inner City Helping Homeless], and he brought me somewhere where I could stay for the night.”

She said that she was told by the council yesterday afternoon that her child had since been registered as homeless. However, she still had to wait until the late afternoon before she could try to source accommodation for the night.

When she spoke to us yesterday afternoon, she said that she and her child were walking the streets of Dublin city for a second day while waiting to hear about accommodation.

ICHH’s Flynn told that accommodation was found by his organisation for the mother and her child prior to 10pm Tuesday night. He said that her case was of a type frequently encountered by ICHH.

“We understand everybody is under pressure,” he said of emergency homeless accommodation services. “But we need a longer term solution to what is going on.”

Not a once-off event

This mother spoke to on the same day that Focus Ireland director of advocacy Mike Allen was speaking about the “gap in legal protection” for homeless children at the launch of the third right to housing report at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission building.

Citing the experience of Margaret Cash and her family, Allen said that the attention given to this particular story “perhaps obscured that this had become a regular occurrence”.

He said that in many circumstances, families do not take up the option of sleeping in a garda station and instead find relatives to take them in for the night or sleep in cars.

Allen said that, over an eight-month period, Focus Ireland had verified that 21 families slept in garda stations because they had not been provided with emergency accommodation for the night. 

He said that while these incidents are uncommon due to the “very active response” to the problem by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), there were situations where a family previously living in another local authority area could be denied a contingency bed. 

“When things go wrong, it is the local authority staff who are blamed, while the media and the political system responds as if this was a once off event coming out of the blue,” he said.

Allen also said that the current system entirely relies on the hard work and personal judgement of individual members of local authority and charity staff on any one night, which did not constitute “an adequate response to the rights and the needs of vulnerable children”. 

The Focus Ireland director of advocacy added that the local authority staff in Dublin had worked long and hard to develop systems to respond to this challenge.

‘A deepening crisis’

The latest homelessness figures for July 2018 showed an increase of 43 homeless children in that month.

Minister Eoghan Murphy said last week that the numbers presenting in the Dublin region “remains a concern” but that the “situation would be more challenging were it not for the huge efforts being put in to prevention”.

Sinn Féin is leading calls for Murphy to step down as Housing Minister, but ICHH’s Anthony Flynn said that this wouldn’t do any good for families in, or about to enter, homelessness in the immediate future.

“There’s never been a crisis like this before,” he said. “We have nine the children in the [ICHH] building right now [We spoke to Anthony just before 6pm yesterday evening]. It’s just totally unacceptable. We have children here who have homework to do, but they don’t know where they’ll be sleeping tonight.

We have to really work on preventative measures. We already have up to four families that have made themselves known to us that they’ll be homeless by Friday.

At the time of writing yesterday evening, the mother we spoke to had not yet been provided with accommodation for the night. 

In a response to a request from, DRHE said that the woman had presented to South Dublin County Council, so we should direct our query to the council.

In a statement to, South Dublin County Council said: “The Council does not comment on individual cases.”

With reporting from Hayley Halpin

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