Hotels and B&Bs 'not suitable' for homeless families, says Taoiseach
Hotels and bed and breakfast establishments are not suitable places for homeless families to stay in, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.
He was speaking after figures showed a significant rise in homelessness.
Mr Kenny was speaking in Knock, where he welcomed the first chartered transatlantic pilgrimage flight in 30 years.
Department of the Environment figures over the weekend showed a 55pc increase in the number of homeless families since the start of the year.
The figures also revealed a sharp rise in the number of homeless families living in hotels.
"It is not suitable to have people staying in bed and breakfasts and it is not suitable for people to be staying in hotels, particularly when there are children involved," said Mr Kenny.
He said homelessness is an issue that "always raises its head from September to Christmas", and last year the Government responded with a "very serious package".
"That dealt with the rough sleepers and the homeless for a period and now it's rising again," he said.
Mr Kenny said it was not possible to deal with the issue without addressing housing supply.
He said the Government is responding with commitments to reconstruct void units, increase the provision for social housing and introduce measures to stimulate the private construction market.
"Because no matter who is in government, and no matter what you do, unless you deal with the scale of supply of housing you cannot deal with this problem effectively," he said.
In a significant announcement concerning his political future, Mr Kenny said he has no intention of serving beyond the term of the next government.
He strongly rebuked his Chief Whip Paul Kehoe over comments he had made about how long he wishes to stay as leader of Fine Gael.
Last week, Mr Kehoe caused controversy when he said Mr Kenny wants to remain as Taoiseach until past 2021, but Mr Kenny said he had used a great deal of "poetic licence" when he was speaking.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Kenny said it is firstly a matter for the people who govern the party, and that his priority is to finish the job he has to get the country back to work.
Senior government sources have said it is their understanding that Mr Kenny, if re-elected at the next general election, would step down in 2018 once the target of "full employment" is achieved.
CARDINAL AMONG KNOCK PILGRIMS: PAGE 24
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