Tuesday 25 October 2016

Homeless families may go to court in Europe, says Burke

Campaigner Christy Burke Photo: Arthur Carron
Campaigner Christy Burke Photo: Arthur Carron

A homeless charity is to seek legal advice on whether families living in emergency accommodation have grounds to take a human rights case against the state.

Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) is due to meet with senior counsel tomorrow to explore if a group action could be taken by families living in unsuitable emergency accommodation to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Chairman of the charity, former Lord Mayor Christy Burke, said that the group discussed the idea with several people who are living in hotel rooms with their children.


"It's 2016 and the Government made a statement that they would eradicate homelessness in 2016 but it doesn't seem to be a priority," he said.

ICHH has a board meeting tonight where the decision will be formally made and the next day the board members will meet senior counsel to discuss the case.

"We would look at it as a block objection. We believe that there is a case there.

"It was heart-breaking over the festive season and it's just inhumane," he said.

"I'm blue in the face listening to ministers and government spokespersons saying that there is so many millions gone into homelessness when at the end of the day there are more people gone into homelessness than there was last year. This has to stop ... It just can't go on.

"At this stage families living in hotels will take any route if they believe it's going to give them a dignified home.

"Nobody is coming up with alternatives but we are, we're saying bring it to the Court of Human Rights," he added.


Some 2,500 adults and children were expected to access emergency accommodation over the Christmas period.

Hotel rooms have been used as a last resort by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) but best practise dictates that they should only be used for a short time.

However, due to an escalating number of people seeking emergency accommodation, people have been in this situation for more than a year.

Last week, the Herald revealed a litany of complaints lodged by residents, social workers and public health nurses over standards in emergency accommodation in the capital, including reports of mice and cockroaches.

Concern was also raised about the unsuitability of hotels as family accommodation due to noise, cramped conditions and late bar hours.

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