THOMAS Pringle has said the Government must focus on prevention of homelessness rather than waiting for people to be in homelessness before steps are taken.
The Killybegs-based Independent TD was speaking in support of the Homeless Prevention Bill 2020 in the Dáil on Tuesday evening.
Deputy Pringle said: “This Bill seeks to amend the Housing Act 1988 in order to provide a legal definition of persons at risk of homelessness. This is hugely important because for many years we have had to wait for people to present as homeless before they could access supports – that’s ridiculous.”
Deputy Pringle said there are currently more than 2,600 children in homelessness in Ireland today, an increase of 200 per cent in five years.
He said: “This figure doesn’t include the children that are in direct provision centres or domestic violence refuges, so we know that the true figure is much, much higher.
“I am not saying ‘homeless children’. I am saying ‘children in homelessness’ because Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the Greens and governments since the ‘90s have forced these children into homelessness. Their policies have taken away their childhoods, created untold longer-term impacts on their development, mental health and later life outcomes.
“It is the greatest shame of our country in modern days.”
Deputy Pringle also read into the record excerpts from Homeless Stories, a book by Emu Ink that contains accounts of 20 children between the ages of 5 and 13 who have been in homeless accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Eight-year-old Charley from Dublin said: “Once back in our room, I had no space to play or have any fun and even when I tried to play with my toys my little brother would wreck them. This made my heart very sad.”
A 10-year-old, Kasey, said: “I’ve had three birthdays and two Christmases living in the hotel now, but this Christmas could be our first in a new home.
“I wanted to tell my story because if there’s another family who move into our hotel room when we finally get to move out, I wanted them to know they are not alone.”
Deputy Pringle also called attention to the #Don’tForgetMe campaign, which is highlighting the deaths of people in homelessness this year.
He Pringle said: “Any needless death, like that of Jonathan Corrie across the road in 2014, is a disgrace to our nation.”
He urged the Government to support the Sinn Féin bill and commended Deputy Eoin Ó Broin for bringing it forward and for his work in this area.