"We're really expecting serious troubles." Homelessness spokesperson warns of grim fate for homeless families during Papal visit 4 years ago

"We're really expecting serious troubles." Homelessness spokesperson warns of grim fate for homeless families during Papal visit

"We have a fear that children will end up on the street."

Homeless families around the country face being moved out of emergency housing due to demand for accommodation for the Papal visit at the end of the month.


The visit will see a huge spike in demand for hotel rooms and rental accommodation as thousands of tourists flock to the city for the World Meeting of Families from 21 to 26 August.

The issue of homeless families being removed from emergency shelter in place of profitable visitors was originally raised by Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis back in June.

"With the expected crowds and the peak season for tourists, accommodation will be impossible to get," Mr Ellis told the Dáil some three weeks ago, adding that prices would also be inflated.

Minister of State at the Department of Housing Damien English refuted this accusation, claiming that homeless families currently in emergency accommodation would not be affected by the Pontiff's visit and contingency plans are in place for families presenting as homeless during that period.


Speaking to JOE, an Inner City Helping Homelessness (ICHH) spokesperson doubted claims that homeless families won't be affected by Pope Francis' visit.

"When the Pope comes over to visit - we're really expecting serious troubles. We'll be making calls to organisations as something needs to be done quickly," the spokesperson said.

"But we have serious doubt that homeless families won't be removed as hotels can charge more in comparison."

The ICHH is a homeless services provider based in Dublin city centre. They are non-government funded and are entirely volunteer-run.


"Much of the accommodation has been on a night-by-night basis. Last night, 16 children in total spent the night in a Dublin Garda station," Anthony Flynn, CEO and Co-Founder of ICHH told JOE.

"10 families in total were left without accommodation. Out of those 10, three of families went to a Garda station – fives families were registered as something we call DNA's (Did Not Arrive) and found their own shelter for the night.

"We haven't got a major event going on in the city at the moment and these 10 families were referred to Garda stations. Families were walking around until 9pm to see if they could find somewhere.

"We have a fear that children will end up on the street during the Papal visit with the big influx of tourists set to take to the city.


"The DAA is recording the highest number of tourists ever coming through the airport. We've become over-reliant on hotels and B&Bs to prove emergency accommodation.

"An abundance of tourists, 500,000 people minimum, will be in the city and the situation is that many of these hotels are taking bookings on a night-by-night.

"Eoghan Murphy (Minister for Housing) needs to put a system in place where we're not being presented late at night with families in need.

"I've asked for the Dáil to be called. This is his (Eoghan Murphy) problem.

"We should have accommodation sourced in the afternoon for those individuals to enter. Families shouldn't have to walk into town and wait in McDonald's on O'Connell Street for a call back from a statuary body to see if they have a bed for the night.


"The red flag is raised now and he's aware of it - we're just waiting for a call back."

At time of writing, the minister has not yet responded to Flynn.

Just last month, figures were released showing that a record number of people in Ireland were homeless in June, revealing that child homelessness rose 35% at the end of Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy’s first full year in office.

Flynn recently shared a photo of a number of children in school uniforms sleeping in the waiting area of a Dublin Garda station.

Their mother had taken the photo following a lengthy battle with the Department of Housing, which left her no other choice but to bring her children to seek shelter in the station.

It's understood that the Government is spending up to €3 million on Pope Francis' visit to Ireland later this year, according to recently published tender documents.

€1.8 million is set to be spent on security personnel and equipment, while another €1.2m was planned on CCTV and related communications equipment for the duration of the visit.

The pontiff is due to arrive in Dublin in August for a two-day visit on 25 and 26 of August as part of the Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families event.