Eoghan Murphy claims "policies are working" as homelessness reaches record levels
"The reason why you're seeing the focus on me more as a person in recent months is because the policies are working."
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy – a figure whose name has made headlines regarding homelessness figures in recent weeks – spoke on Today with Miriam on Tuesday morning to discuss the growing homelessness crisis which recently saw a family of eight take shelter for the night in a Dublin Garda Station.
Figures released earlier this year showed that a record number of people in Ireland were homeless in June. The same figures also revealed that child homelessness rose 35% at the end of Eoghan Murphy’s first full year as housing minister.
At present, it's understood that 10,000 people are currently in emergency accommodation in Ireland – 4,000 of which are expected to be children.
O'Callaghan brought up Margaret Cash, the woman who's sleeping children make up a viral photo as they lay across the metal chairs of Tallaght Garda Station.
"This is simply not acceptable, Minister. To have little children sleep in a Garda station," she said.
"It's not acceptable. And it was very, very upsetting to see those images," the Minister replied.
"We are absolutely determined as a State to make sure we are putting in every report that we can to help families in distress. To help families that are at risk of entering into emergency accommodation, but also to help families as they enter emergency accommodation."
Minister Murphy went on to say that "what we have at the moment, is a very acute supply problem", which he claims is currently being rectified by the building of social housing.
The Minister went on to say that 4,500 homes were completed in Ireland last quarter.
"What we actually need to achieve is somewhere between 6,000 - 8,500 homes – and then that continuing for a steady period of time."
Murphy has said the homeless figures for July are still being compiled but he believes the numbers are up on the previous month as "increased presentations" have been seen.
He went on to say that he can't be certain if the numbers will hit 10,000 but said that no matter the figure, the problem remains the same.
"While the numbers obviously are too high, hitting 10,000 doesn't tell us anything that 9,000 didn't tell us which is that we have a very serious crisis," he told Miriam.
He also said they were going to hit their target of increasing the housing stock to 50,000 by 2021.
This was mentioned at about the same time he claimed that "one in four or one in five" houses built this year will be social houses and that "that commitment maintains for the next ten years".
Murphy mentioned that it was his responsibility to fix the problem and that was what he was primarily focused on at this moment in time.
He said his Department is reliant on local authorities to build social housing, saying that some were in the process of building, some weren't and others were facing significant delays.
Public fury surrounding the issue of homelessness has grown stronger since Margaret Cash's story was made public. Just last week, a group of housing activists called for the resignation of Murphy following "last minute changes & broken promises on his side".
This was then followed by the news that homeless families may face removal from emergency accommodation to facilitate tourists during the Papal visit.
While speaking on the show, Murphy also confirmed that the forthcoming Presidential Election will take place on 26 October.
The opening date for nominations to contest the election will be Thursday, 30 August, and nominations will close on 26 September.
It's expected that the inauguration will take place on 11 November.
The interview in full can be listened to here.