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Coveney: 'No five-year-old child should be eating their dinner from cardboard on the street'

A photo posted on online in recent days shows a boy eating his dinner from a piece of cardboard on the street.
Oct 17th 2019, 7:01 PM 18,835 53

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY has said it is “not acceptable” that a five-year-old child had to eat his dinner on the streets of Dublin. 

His comments come after an image emerged on social media in recent days of a homeless boy named ‘Sam’ eating his dinner from a piece of cardboard on the ground in Dublin.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty raised the issue in the Dáil today during leaders’ questions. 

“The Homeless Street Café, the volunteer group who met Sam on Tuesday night, made clear that his mother is trying her best to provide nutritious home cooked meals for her children but like so many parents of the homeless children of this State they live in emergency accommodation that strictly forbids them cooking meals for their children,” Doherty said. 

This is Sam’s life, without a home or the comfort and security that should be a right for every child in this state.

 Sam is just one of thousands of children who are living in emergency accommodation in Ireland currently.

Latest figures from the Department of Housing show that 10,338 people were in emergency accommodation in Ireland in August, including 6,490 adults and 3,848 children.

“This is Sam’s life, without a home or the comfort or security that should be a right for every child in this State,” Doherty said. 

This is the life of nearly 4,000 children who, like Sam, have been condemned to this type of nightmare. There is only one place our children should be on a Tuesday night, namely, safely tucked up in their beds in homes with their families.

Doherty added that “children are having their childhoods stolen from them right before our eyes”.

“It is a national shame. How can we, as a nation, accept this? How can the government stand over this?” he said. 

Responding to Doherty, Coveney said he “does not accept it”, adding that “no five-year-old child should be eating his or her dinner from a piece of cardboard on the street”. 

“We live in a country that does not accept this and that is why it is being raised in the House today, as it should be,” Coveney said. 

The Tánaiste insisted that the government is “making progress” in regard to homelessness. 

“For example, in 2018 more than 5,000 adults exited homelessness into homes, which is an increase of 8% on the previous year.  In the first half of this year, 2,825 adults exited homelessness into homes, which is a 21% increase on the previous year,” Coveney said. 

However, he added: “We need to ensure that Sam and little boys like him have security, safety and predictability in terms of their parents having a safe tenancy or a home of their own in which to look after their families. This is what we are working towards.

“It makes me angry that the supports being put in place are not succeeding in ensuring that little boys like Sam do not find themselves in the position Sam was in a few nights ago.”

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Hayley Halpin

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