DUBLIN, 25 May 2017 – UNICEF Ireland has described as a total failure of the State shocking reports that 12 families, including 30 children, were left with no option except to present themselves at Garda stations on Tuesday, because they had nowhere to sleep.
Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland, Peter Power, said: “I am absolutely shocked that young children were put in a situation that was unsafe and frightening for them, and for their families. It is a total failure by the State.”
Childrens’ rights organisation UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations to advocate for children, everywhere.
Mr. Power pointed out: “In September it will be 25 years since Ireland signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In January 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed deep concerns about reports that families affected by homelessness here face significant delays in accessing social housing and frequently live in inappropriate, temporary or emergency accommodation on a long-term basis. The Committee urged the State to increase the availability of social housing and emergency housing that is appropriate to the needs of children. Nearly a year and a half later, the crisis of homelessness is getting worse. In 2021 we will be required to stand before the Committee again and account for what we have done to improve the situation. How will we justify what is happening here this week?
“We join with Focus Ireland in its call on the Government to give clear Statutory responsibility to one agency to deal with the homeless crisis with regard to families, and in particular children.
“We in UNICEF Ireland have ourselves been approached by desperate parents who have nowhere for their children to stay and who have been forced to spend a night in a garda station. They also told us they do not have enough food to eat, because they are falling through the cracks of our system.
“As the Summer tourist season peaks with hotels and hostels being in even greater demand I fear a repeat of this unacceptable situation for children. The new leader of Fine Gael – and the country – must, as an immediate priority, assign responsibility for accommodating homeless children. Our response to this crisis will be as a mirror held up to the rest of the world. How can we stand over the treatment of homeless children in this country, just as we market ourselves as a re-born nation; innovative, dynamic… a smart economy.
We must protect children.”
UNICEF is the United Nations’ organisation for children. UNICEF fights for children’s rights and promotes the well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories taking practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. UNICEF has been in operation for 70 years.
For more information, please contact:
Aedín Donnelly, Communications and Media Manager for UNICEF Ireland | firstname.lastname@example.org | +353 85 1395272