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"79 Deaths of People Who Were Homeless in Dublin in 2020 While Huge Contradictions Remain Between Council and Department" - Tóibín

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has said there are huge contradictions between the figures documenting homeless deaths in Dublin which were presented to the Oireachtas Housing Committee today, and figures which were separately released to Aontú over the Summer. Deputy Tóibín said:

"Yesterday in the Dáil, I raised a very serious issue which was recently exposed by the RTE Investigates program. I have long been pleading with the Minister to put an end to the practice of turning homeless people away from hostel beds in Dublin, simply because they are not from Dublin. It has been brought to my attention that the practice is still continuing even since the airing of the RTE program. I have been made aware of at least five cases of people being turned away in the past week. In the Dáil, a similar point was made by Deputy Cian O'Callaghan, however, the Minister denied that this was still an issue. Today in the Housing Committee, Brendan Kenny, the Deputy Chief Executive of the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, acknowledged the problem, and said Dublin City Council were actively trying to solve it".

Deputy Tóibín continued: "Earlier this week, in a tweet, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Hazel Chu, also indicated that the problem has not gone away. She said that the DRHE was changing the 'local connection policy', but that it 'still needs to go through assessment'. We have absolutely no hope of solving the homeless crisis or any of the problems I have identified, if the Minister persists in holding his head beneath the sand. If the Minister continues to deny there is a problem, then the situation is only going to get worse. Back in July, the DRHE released a document to Aontú showing that in Dublin there had been 35 homeless deaths in 2018, and 35 in 2019. The figures presented to the Housing Committee today by the DRHE show a startling figure of 79 deaths of people who were homeless in Dublin in 2020".

"I have been raising the plight of people who are homeless in the Dáil for months now. Back in November the Minister promised to investigate it. Shockingly he still cannot furnish me with the findings of that investigation. Now I understand that investigations take time, but it is horrific that homeless people were turned away from accommodation and told to go back to their home county for assistance, right throughout the winter, while temperatures plummeted to minus 7 degrees in some parts, and while there was a ban on inter-county travel. What was the point of commissioning an investigation to examine the veracity of the issues I raised while all the time leaving homeless people on the streets rather than intervening? It is hard to get my head around that figure of 79 deaths, in Dublin alone. The Department does not even know the figures in the other 25 counties in the state. We need urgent standardisation of homeless services, we need figures relating to every other county, and we need an end to the practice of turning people away while empty beds are available", concluded Deputy Tóibín.
By Aontú Press | 29 January, 2021

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