PRESIDENT MICHAEL D. Higgins has delivered an impassioned speech about Ireland's housing policy, calling it the country's "great, great failure".
The President was speaking at the official opening of Jigginstown Manor, a new supported residence facility for young adults emerging from homelessness outside Naas in Co Kildare.
"It isn't a crisis anymore - it is a disaster," President Higgins said, adding that Ireland needs to meet "the basic needs of people in a republic: Food, shelter and education."
"I often ask myself, you know, how republican is what we’ve created? And isn’t it sometimes very much closer to the poor law system that we thought we were departing from," Higgins said.
"That's a real challenge. I have taken as well to speaking ever more frankly in relation to housing because I think it is our great, great, great failure.
"It isn’t a crisis anymore, it is a disaster."
Mr Higgins praised Wicklow and Kildare county councils which had supported Tiglin housing initiatives such as Jigginstown Manor and called on other local authorities to support similar projects.
"Let all the county managers and the directors of services all over the country have a good long look at what is happening in Wicklow and Kildare and ask themselves a question before their next monthly meeting and ask themselves: 'Why aren't we doing something similar? What is stopping us?'
"I ask myself the question when we walk though our cities and within 200 yards you see so many derelict buildings, so many abandoned buildings.
"Building homes is what is important, it is not to be a star performer for the speculative sector internationally or anything else," he added.
He was also critical of shortcomings in Traveller accommodation, calling it "immoral, wrong and irresponsible to leave people in the conditions we have left some of our travelling people."
"I spend a great deal of my time, for example, meeting people who are celebrating Ireland's membership in the Security Council, membership of the Council of Europe," Higgins told attendees.
"But then I have to go over to Galway... to address yet again something that is there as bad as it was 50 years ago. A halting site for Travelling people next to the rubbish dump.
"That's something that shouldn't be... For 50 years, it's like that.
"And all the time, it's very difficult. It isn't difficult. It is a moral wrong, irresponsible, to leave people in the conditions we have left some of our Travelling people.
"If we are to be the Republic of a 100 years on and we're going to celebrate the foundation of the State and all of the institutions, let's do something wonderful with it all," he finished.