Councillor says Minister's ‘massage’ of Limerick homeless figures is ‘disgusting’

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

It has emerged that following a request from Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, Limerick City and County Council took 24 families from its figures between February and March

It has emerged that following a request from Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, Limerick City and County Council took 24 families from its figures between February and March

SINN Fein councillor John Costelloe has described revelations that Limerick council removed families from its March homeless figures following a “Minister’s order” as “disgusting”.

It has emerged that following a request from Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, Limerick City and County Council took 24 families from its figures between February and March.

The clients in question remain in a family hub at the Childers Road, according to a story in the Irish Times. Opened last year, the hub is being operated by Focus Ireland.

Cllr Costelloe, who sits on the local authority’s housing committee said: “They are massaging the figures and it’s disgusting really. This is another nail in the government’s coffin as far as I’m concerned. We have numerous families in homeless accommodation and to use their plight to further their ambitions in government, I fail to understand.”

A spokesperson for council said: “In March 2018 there were 68 families in emergency accommodation. Last month, this number was reduced to 44 families due to the transitioning of the Childers Road family initiative into long term accommodation. It consists of 30 apartments and became operational in December 2017 with a view to assisting families experiencing crisis accommodation issues."

The council said it was always planned that the unit "would transition to permanent accommodation in due course. This process is currently under way and we are working with the families involved".

Mike Allen, director of advocacy with Focus Ireland, told the Irish Times: “Our understanding with Limerick council has always been that these units will eventually become long-term homes but the families should continue to be included in the homeless figures until this actually happens.

“The timing of the transition should reflect the continued need for temporary emergency accommodation in the area and the interests of the families, including the need to establish a strong community.”

Cllr Costelloe says he will be raising this matter at the next meeting of the housing committee.

“I’m dealing with housing issues every day of the week. I run a clinic and of every 25 people who come in, 22 of these have a housing issue. It feels the government hasn’t the will to tackle this,” he added.

Dublin City Council, Waterford City and County and Louth County Council have also confirmed the removal of families from its homelessness lists at the request of Mr Murphy.