SOME homeless parents in Donegal face round trips of 100km to take children to school, it has emerged.
This month’s meeting of the Glenties Municipal District heard of the hardship faced by some who had been displaced from their homes.
The meeting was told of one expecting west Donegal mother who faced the prospect of being homeless in the coming weeks.
The newly-elected Glenties MD Cathaoirleach, Cllr Maire Therese Gallagher, said there were homeless people in the area who ‘have nowhere to go’.
“We are dealing with this day-in, day-out,” she said. “This breaks my heart. People like this are at a vulnerable stage n their lives.
“There is a huge difference in being treated with dignity and having a door to close for themselves. That could be a difference in what direction they go. We know the importance of having a home.
“We could be looking four or five years down the road before this is moved on. We have to look at this aggressively and see what facilities we have. We are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”
The meeting heard that emergency accommodation for homeless persons is provided at St. Colmcille Homeless Hostel, in Sallaghgraine, Letterkenny, which is run and managed by St. Vincent de Paul.
Vouchers for use at bed and breakfast accommodation is also provided as a means of short-term solution.
Cllr Gallagher said: “We can’t be offering young people a ticket to go to a hostel in Letterkenny when they have young children who have to go to a school in the morning. That is what some people have to do because they have no option.
“We need the Department to change policy on how we will provide homes and retain people in smaller villages. Councils should be given a budget and be able to decide where that goes. That is local democracy and that is looking at the needs of the people.
“We have an emergency now throughout Donegal. We are all dealing with this – and it is getting more heartbreaking.”
In a motion to the meeting, Sinn Féin Cllr John Sheamais Ó Fearraigh asked that the MD wrote to the Minister and his Department regarding funding ‘to secure the much needed accommodation in all Municipal Districts’.
Cllr Ó Fearraigh said that people who were displaced from their homes needed accommodation locally.
“They need local refuge,” he said. “I know of a young person who was put out of her home and the only place available was in Letterkenny.
“There would be a house or two in our parishes that would be suitable for young people in these situations. This is happening in all areas.”
Cllr Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig supported the motion.
“Not once but a number times, I have been homeless,” he said. “This is a motion that is very important for me.
“I know of a mother who is expecting a child in the coming weeks and who will be homeless in a number of weeks. There are others in the same boat.
“The model we have is not working and vouchers are not sufficient.”
A spokesperson from Donegal County Council said: “It can be very challenging to assist needs in the short term. We always try to start from a point of sympathy. You can see the hardship.”
The spokesperson said that the model used by the Department would not support a shelter within the Glenties MD.
“Our homeless figures would be seen as low,” he said. “We are fighting an uphill battle in terms of the standard of social housing and especially homeless housing.”Tags: