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Two women ‘locked in’ at Bray Town Council offices after protesting their homelessness

Two homeless mothers and a Sinn Féin Councillor have been locked into Bray Town Council offices for the long weekend, after the women refused to leave until they were given safe accommodation for their families.

Image: Elena Elisseeva via Shutterstock

TWO HOMELESS WOMEN and a councillor have been locked into Bray Town Council for the long weekend after refusing to leave until their housing situation is changed – after being sent to live at an open hostel in Wicklow that they say is unsafe for their children.

The women arrived at the council building this evening to protest against the authority’s handling of their housing situation, and vowed not to leave the premises until they and their children are given more suitable accommodation. Subsequently, the women were locked into the building along with Sinn Féin Councillor John Brady – who says he will stay with them “for as long as it takes”.

The women had been living in the locality under the Rental Accommodation Scheme; one woman was told over four weeks ago that her lease would not be renewed while the other woman was presented with a similar situation over a week ago. Both women were told by the council to travel with their children to the homeless shelter in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow.

This afternoon, the women arrived at Bray Town Council “adamant” that they would not return their children to the hostel, which they say is “unsafe” and “mainly used by single men”.

Sinn Féin Cllr John Brady explained to that the hostel the women had been directed to is used mostly by men, some of whom have substance or other problems, and only offers shared kitchen, toilet and showering facilities.

One of the women, who suffers from diabetes, said she had rented B&B accommodation for as long as she could to avoid going to the hostel with three daughters but eventually ran out of money. Her children were “terrified” after staying at the hostel, she said, explaining that one night they could hear a man upstairs drunk, screaming and knocking on doors.

The mother, who does not wish to be identified for work purposes, said the phone at the facility didn’t work and the children had to get up at 5am to have enough time to walk to the station to catch the train to school. Her children were now falling asleep in classes, she said.

“They have reduced us to doing this because they haven’t listened before,” she said. “I’ve been on the housing list for 10 years, they know my situation. I could lose my job over this.”

The mother also raised questions about her children being sent to an open facility which had virtually no staffing at night, saying “it surely goes against HSE guidelines for child safety”.

The other mother has a two-year-old child who became “violently ill” last week, and they were told to travel 40km to Bray for treatment, she said.

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Cllr Brady said other town councils have offered families in similar circumstances emergency accommodation in B&Bs but that it was up to each council how to proceed with such requests. ”

The Council have arrange a meeting with the women for 2pm on Tuesday afternoon, but have refused to provide alternative accommodation to the hostel in the meantime. “An interim measure was possible but council were unwilling to do that,” he said.

Brady said they had some water and food and would be staying in the council building until a suitable arrangement for the two families was reached.

The children are not at the premises.

Read: 94 people will be sleeping rough on Dublin’s streets tonight

Read: Government commits to ending homelessness by 2016

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