'Our third Christmas as homeless is a living hell', says desperate mother
A mother preparing to spend her third Christmas living in emergency accommodation with her young son has spoken of her "nightmare" as she fights to escape homelessness.
Siobhan Donohue (41) told how her three-year-old son Mason was her "dream in life" and is now determined to find a permanent home for them to call their own.
The Dublin mum is originally from Clondalkin but most recently lived in the Fingal area.
"I really thought the first Christmas that we were homeless, that that would be it," Siobhan told the Herald.
"But by the second Christmas I was praying so hard that we would find a home but it didn't happen.
"I kept telling myself 'keep the head up Siobhan, you'll have a home soon' and now the third Christmas is here and we are still homeless."
Siobhan said Mason already realises he isn't like his friends because the other children talk about going home to their family, while Mason often tells his mother 'we don't have a chimney'.
"There's only so much faith you can have to keep on coping," Siobhan said. "It's really hard. Having Mason was my dream. I'd always wanted a child but I became homeless after he was born and we are still here living like this and that's a nightmare.
"I never wanted this life for my son. Every woman's dream is to have a child and get married but unfortunately things went wrong.
"This isn't Christmas for me. The lights, the tree, nothing will make it Christmas for me.
"I wear a fake smile every day for my son and I will on Christmas Day too," Siobhan added.
"Mason knows he is different to other children. He lives in emergency accommodation and has been homeless most of his life and he's only three, so that's what breaks my heart.
"It cuts in to me to know Mason is just a little boy and he knows only this life, and that other children have a home to go to, where they feel safe and warm with their family.
"He's seen too much being homeless. He's witnessed anti-social behaviour and rows and I do my best to protect him but he just shouldn't be living like this."
Siobhan has been living in the Dublin city emergency accommodation with Mason for two-and-a-half years but they were homeless prior to that also.
She said she has been in contact with Fingal County Council repeatedly trying to get a suitable home for her son.
"As far as I'm concerned, we just don't matter to the council. We don't even have human rights in this country.
"I will make this a special Christmas for Mason, as I always do, but it's very hard to hang on. I just want my son to have a home, like all children should have."
The mother had worked full-time up until recent years. She then suffered an accident which she says has led to very painful osteoporosis.
Siobhan is due to have an operation in February and is concerned that she may have nowhere suitable to recover as she will be in a wheelchair for at least six months.
"We live on the second floor," she said. "I need a home for health reasons also. As soon as I am recovered, I want to get my life back on track.
"One day when I am pain free I'd love to work again and provide 100 percent for my son, but right now I need help.
"I think what the activists and celebrities are doing to raise awareness of the homeless issue with Apollo House is great, but the pubic look at people like me and think 'oh well, at least she has a roof over her head', but it's not like that.
"No one would want their child to be brought up in emergency accommodation.
"You're monitored, you don't have the freedom you should have as a human being, and it is not a home.
"Your child is different and they know it. It's a living hell," Siobhan added.
When contacted about Siobhan's situation, a spokesperson for Fingal County Council said: "We do not comment in detail in relation to the personal issues surrounding individual applicants for housing support.
"The council's homeless support Team has been in regular dialogue with this applicant with a view to identifying a sustainable housing source for as soon as possible."