Junior Housing Minster Damien English yesterday told the Dail that media reporting about homelessness “is damaging to Ireland’s international reputation.”
He was responding to a question from Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Ruth Copping during a Topical Issues debate titled “Homeless Persons Data.”
Minister English said he welcomed the chance to address comments made by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy at the Fine Gael Party Conference last weekend in relation to leland’s rate of homelessness and “to clarify the technical issues associated with making international comparisons”.
“It is not good enough that more than 3,000 children are without permanent homes, that families are residing in hotels or that individuals are sleeping on the streets of our cities.
“However, neither is it acceptable to hear commentators talking down our country.
“Over the past two years we have seen this narrative reflected in the national media.
“It has been claimed that homelessness in Ireland is at its worst since the Famine and that we have a crisis that is the worst in Europe.
“Assertions have been made to the effect that homelessness in Ireland is at such crisis levels that we should be excused from the requirements of EU law in responding.
“Some of this narrative has seeped into international coverage of our housing system, and it is damaging to Ireland’s international reputation that our social response to this issue is being portrayed as dysfunctional.”
Prior to Minister English’s comments Deputy Copping accused Fine Gael of being in denial about the homeless crisis.
“It seems Fine Gael are homelessness deniers.
“The party’s members were not willing to debate the most pressing social issue at the party conference, meaning that the main Government party was sending out the message “Crisis; what crisis?”
“The party’s members were not willing to debate the most pressing social issue at the party conference, meaning that the main Government party was sending out the message “Crisis? What crisis?”
“This was followed, disgracefully, by a well-paid Government adviser, Mr Skehan, whose services are paid for by the taxpayer, going on national radio to say that the poor will always be with us.
“It is quite incredible and these stark examples bring it home to people that nobody in the Government seems to care or to recognise the scale of this crisis.”