SF says Mur­phy ‘not com­pe­tent or fit’ for hous­ing role

The Irish Times - - Home News - KITTY HOLLAND

Min­is­ter for Hous­ing Eoghan Mur­phy is ei­ther “not com­pe­tent or not fit” to hold of­fice as he ei­ther does not un­der­stand how home­less­ness was de­fined, or was de­lib­er­ately ma­nip­u­lat­ing the term, an Oireach­tas com­mit­tee has heard.

Sinn Féin hous­ing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin made the com­ments as he ques­tioned the Min­is­ter about the re­moval of 578 in­di­vid­u­als from the State’s home­less­ness fig­ures.

When pub­lish­ing the March home­less­ness fig­ures last month, Mr Mur­phy’s depart­ment said it had es­tab­lished that sev­eral lo­cal au­thor­i­ties had “mis­cat­e­gorised” 247 adults and 331 chil­dren as home­less and “con­se­quently these were de­ducted from the fig­ures”. The March fig­ures showed a fall in the num­ber of home­less from 9,807 to 9,681. The num­ber of adults clas­si­fied as des­ti­tute fell from 6,052 to 6,035, and chil­dren from 3,755 to 3,646.

The move has been con­tro­ver­sial as it emerged at least four lo­cal au­thor­i­ties – Dublin City, Water­ford City and County, Louth County and Lim­er­ick City and County coun­cils – had re­moved fam­i­lies from their home­less­ness fig­ures de­spite them re­main­ing in tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion funded from a home­less­ness fund­ing stream known as “sec­tion 10” fund­ing.

Re­move fam­i­lies

Three lo­cal au­thor­i­ties – Kil­dare, Wick­low and Meath – re­fused to re­move fam­i­lies in such ac­com­mo­da­tion from their home­less­ness fig­ures.

Mr Ó Broin told Mr Mur­phy that ei­ther he was a Min­is­ter “who does not un­der­stand the difference be­tween a ten­ancy and emer­gency ac­com­mo­da­tion – in which case you are not com­pe­tent to hold the job you do – or you do un­der­stand them and you still al­low this [re­moval of home­less fam­i­lies from the home­less­ness fig­ures], in which case you are not fit to hold the job”.

He said the def­i­ni­tion of home­less­ness had been care­fully worked out by ex­perts and its mean­ing was “crys­tal clear” to those work­ing on the ground.

Mr Mur­phy said the charges Mr Ó Broin had made were “very se­ri­ous”, and that he was “cre­at­ing con­fu­sion”.

“You don’t have the com­plete in­for­ma­tion,” he said, adding that a re­port on the cat­e­gori­sa­tion of home­less in­di­vid­u­als was be­ing compiled. He would “dis­cuss and de­bate” it when

com­plete.

Mr Mur­phy said any re­cat­e­gori­sa­tion only hap­pened with the “agree­ment of the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties”. He would not turn around and tell some­one who was sleep­ing rough or in a night-to-night hos­tel that they were in the same cat­e­gory as peo­ple who had ac­com­mo­da­tion that pro­vided their “own key” and a “front door”.

Mick Barry TD, the Sol­i­dar­ity spokesman on hous­ing, said he sus­pected the Min­is­ter wanted the fam­i­lies re­moved from the fig­ures as he feared the to­tal num­ber of peo­ple on home­less­ness lists would soon ex­ceed 10,000, which would put him un­der “po­lit­i­cal pres­sure”.

“The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of those re­moved are in ac­com­mo­da­tion un­der sec­tion 10 fund­ing. The idea that these would be re­moved from the lists with­out dis­cus­sion shows a de­gree of panic.”

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