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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 23 November, 2019
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"We're not going anywhere" - Demonstration held in support of homeless families on O'Connell Street

A demonstration in planned in support of the families this afternoon.

Activists and residents outside the hotel this afternoon.
Activists and residents outside the hotel this afternoon.

A DEMONSTRATION WAS held today in Dublin city centre in support of a number of homeless families who will soon have to leave their accommodation.

Activists from the Irish Housing Network (IHN) organised the demonstration today outside Lynam’s Hotel on O’Connell Street in the support of five families who have been told they have to leave as the hotel had gone into receivership.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle raised the issue of the families in the Dáil yesterday,

He said the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA) had appointed receivers to the hotel and all Dublin City Council could offer the families was “more of the same inadequate, insecure accommodation”.

The hotel is “self-accommodating”, meaning that homeless families source rooms there themselves, and the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) – which manages the homeless services in Dublin – pays for them.

The hotel is due to close on 1 August. The DRHE said that it has sourced alternative accommodation for all the families.

IMG_20160722_130737499_HDR Outside the hotel this afternoon.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie outside of the hotel today, a resident Karyn Valenta said that she hadn’t been offered any appropriate alternative accommodation and was told she had to leave to hotel today.

“We’ve been here about seven weeks,” said Karyn.

“I work full time. I recently came back home from Manchester and I thought I’d be able to rent with my son.

It just isn’t happening. Even the wages I’m on it doesn’t even cover a fraction of the rent over here.

Karyn said she was living with friends for a time but had to present as homeless when this wasn’t possible anymore.

She has been resident at the home for the past month and shares a room at the hotel with her 16-year-old son Marcus.

“It’s hard… There’s no cooking facilities, nowhere to wash your clothes, there’s nothing,” she said.

“I’ve been having really bad meltdowns the past couple of days. I’m finding it really hard. I mean I’m trying to work to better myself but now I’ve been slapped in the face with this.

Karyn son Marcus said living at the hotel was difficult and compared it to “a prison”.

Last week it got to me more than ever… It’s like being in a prison when you got back to the room because it’s that small and it’s stuffy and there’s no interaction with nobody.

Karen said she was due to leave the hotel today, but that she would not be going anywhere.

IMG_20160722_134738657_HDR Karyn and her son Marcus speaking at the demonstration.

Alternatives 

Also speaking outside of the hotel this afternoon, Niamh McDonald of the Irish Housing Network said that offers made to accommodate the families were “not suitable”.

“The families demand that they get minimum standards and they have secure emergency accommodation,” she said.

IMG_20160722_132306087_HDR Niamh McDonald speaks to reporters. Source: TheJournal.ie

She also called on Dublin City Council and the Environment Department to meet with the residents and the IHN to discuss the situation.

Speaking today on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, some of the families described the conditions they were living in in the hotel and spoke about their worries for the future.

Anna Farrell and her husband live at the hotel with their five children. Both work full time but say they can’t afford their own accommodation.

“It’s quite difficult. We go out a lot… since we became homeless a month ago we’ve been in three different places and one night we were homeless,” she said.

IMG_20160722_131600621_HDR

Anna said she didn’t know what the family would do on Saturday. She said they had been offered alternative accommodation but that it wasn’t suitable.

“So far we don’t have any plan yet,” she said.

“We were offered a place where there were six bunk beds and a small shower.

And it’s in a basement. There’s no room to move. My husband works the night shift and I work during the days and there’s nowhere for the children to go to.

A spokesperson for the the DRHE told TheJournal.ie that negotiations were ongoing with the families.

“The Dublin Region Homeless Executive and Dublin City Council are currently in negotiations in relation to Lynam’s Hotel,” the spokesperson said.

All families have been offered suitable alternative accommodation.

The spokesperson also said that the families would not be forced to leave the hotel until it closed in August. But that it was important to try to source suitable accommodation before that date.

Read: Homeless families living in Dublin hotel told to leave by Saturday

Read: Helplessness, drug addiction and disbelief: An evening on a soup run for the homeless >

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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