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July 2017

Irish Congress of Trade Unions BDC 2017


Teresa Walsh (INTO)

Teresa Walsh (INTO)

Wed 5 July 2017

Speaking on Motion 35 -  Housing

Homelessness has a direct effect on the education of children.

Latest figures from Dublin City Council show there were 1,091 homeless families in Dublin in the final week in April. On the night of 30 April there were 695 families staying in hotels and B&Bs.

A Focus Ireland report in February identified 2,546 children living in emergency accommodation. Our fundamental right to have a home is denied by our current housing crisis. There are real stories behind those statistics. The experience of children is at the heart of this problem.

Many parents are under relentless stress and tension- all of which children experience.  Teachers see children are coming to school with strain etched on their faces and personalities. They come without food, hungry without breakfasts, relying on convenience food purchased en route.  Many families do not have cooking facilities.

Children experiencing homelessness, come to school tired, because it’s hard to get a good nights’ sleep if there is a whole family in one room, in cramped conditions. 

They come to school in tracksuits or in their incorrect uniform because they don’t have washing facilities. They are not completing their homework because there is nowhere quiet to do it. They have no space to play or allow their friends to come over. Their behaviour changes with children becoming disruptive or withdrawn, lacking in attention.

Homelessness has the potential to fundamentally limit the life chances of those children.

The Children Rights Alliance Annual Report Card published in February gave the Government a D+ on its performance of children’s rights, the lowest in the last 6 years. It is highly critical of the Government in dealing with homelessness and the rights of children.

In the ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ Housing Action Plan Government committed that emergency hotel and B&B type accommodation for families would no longer be used by July of this year. However, Government has failed to meet this deadline, and admitted as much last week. These families need a home.

It is vital that children and families in emergency accommodation are supported to attend school. Otherwise, there is a very real danger that these children will turn their back on education, which impacts possible future earnings and general health and wellbeing. The lack of a proper and stable home impacts severely on the ability of children to access education and learning.  We need to resolve the homeless crisis immediately and ensure that each child has access to every opportunity to help them achieve their potential.

Date: Wednesday, 5 July 17