AN IRISH priest has told an Oireachtas Committee that a homeless child living in emergency accommodation in Ireland has been banned from playing in the gardens where his family were staying.
Father Peter McVerry, who campaigns against homelessness in Ireland, was speaking before a committee regarding the issue of depression and homelessness.
Recalling a story about a homeless family who had been temporarily housed in a hotel, McVerry said the family had been banned from mixing with other residents.
They were also banned from eating in the hotel's restaurant.
Fr McVerry said: "They had to come in the back door because they were not allowed in the front door. They were not allowed to sit in the garden on a lovely sunny day even though all the paying residents were in the garden."
Seeing a dog in the hotel's garden, McVerry told how the seven-year-old boy of the family in question had turned to his mother and asked: "Mammy, why is the dog allowed in the garden and we are not?"Figures released by the Department of the Environment
Speaking to Ireland's Newstalk Breakfast, McVerry called for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to declare a national emergency and get “every relevant agency around a table to produce a plan to prevent more families from becoming homeless".
“He would do it if there was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the morning,” he said.
The news comes after a new report from the Housing Agency estimated that there are almost 250,000 empty houses across Ireland.
Talking live on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Monday, Chairperson of the Housing Agency, Conor Skehan argued the government should introduce tax cuts and a grants scheme to encourage people to refurbish vacant homes and help alleviate the housing crisis.