PBPA TD condemns “disgraceful” decision to disallow priority Dail questions to Minister Alan Kelly about deepening crisis in homeless services and costs of emergency accommodation  

Government attempting to cover-up its responsibility and shift blame, as homeless and housing crisis spirals further out of control. 

censorshipIn a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, for the People Before Profit Alliance, has condemned as “disgraceful” the decision to disallow priority questions he submitted to Environment Minister, Alan Kelly, relating to the deepening crisis in homeless services and the cost of emergency hotel accommodation. Deputy Boyd Barrett has lodged a formal written complaint about the decision with the Ceann Comhairle’s office.

Deputy Boyd Barrett will be questioning Minister Kelly about the worsening housing crisis during priority Question time tomorrow (Thursday April 23rd) morning in the Dail. However, three questions he submitted relating to the crisis in homeless services and the cost of emergency homeless accommodation were ruled out of order.

Deputy Boyd Barrett said it beggared belief that the Minister for Environment would claim that he had “no official responsibility to Dail Eireann,” for questions about the full cost of emergency hotel accommodation for people in homeless services over the last 12 months and whether this represented an increase on the previous 12 months.

The following question was one of the questions disallowed on this basis:

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, if he will provide full cost of hotel accommodation being used as emergency accommodation for homeless families and persons for the last 12 months, and the way that compares with the previous 12 months; his views on the new practice recommending that homeless families and individuals may self-accommodate; and if will make a statement on the matter

A question asked about a major increase in delays and problems with the emergency homeless help-line was also disallowed on the grounds that the Minister “had no official responsibility” to the Dail in this area.

Deputy Boyd Barrett said that the decision to disallow questions about some of the worst aspects of the homeless and housing crisis was part of a concerted new policy now being adopted by the government to cover-up its failure to address the housing and homeless crisis and shift the blame onto local authorities.

Richard Boyd Barrett said:

“It is absolutely unbelievable and totally unacceptable that the Minister in charge of housing would claim that he has no responsibility to the Dail on the matter of the increasing cost of emergency hotel accommodation for the rapidly rising number of homeless families and individuals.

The decision to disallow these questions is a cynical and very deliberate political move by the government to cover-up the extent of the housing and homeless crisis and its responsibility for creating that crisis.

The decision to disallow these questions comes hot on the heels of figures published earlier this week showing that the number of children in homeless services has now reached over 1000 – representing a 55% increase on the numbers a year ago.

It has been very clear from various comments and statements made by the Minister and other government TD’s in recent weeks, that the new tactic being adopted the government in relation to the housing and homeless crisis, is to try and distance the government from the problem and shift the blame on to local authorities.

The government are badly embarrassed and exposed by the totally disastrous and deepening housing and homeless crisis. Despite numerous and much-trumpeted announcements that their policies would improve the situation, every policy the government have adopted since entering into office in 2011 has either made the situation worse or failed utterly to address the crisis. The grim facts on the ground speak for themselves and the government has run out of excuses and PR stunts. So, the new ploy is to censor the debate, distance themselves from the issue and pass the blame onto others. It really is a disgrace.”