O’Sullivan to lead Labour Bill to recognise rights of homeless children

14 November 2017

Labour Party legislation to recognise homeless children in their own right within the family unit will be debated during Private Members’ Time in the Dáil this evening.

The Homeless Families Bill would require Local Authorities to recognise the rights of a child in a family unit when applying for accommodation or other assistance, which are currently not explicitly recognised under the Housing Acts.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“Last week marked the five year anniversary of the Children’s Rights referendum, when the rights of our children were enshrined in the constitution.

“Yet with 3,124 children now homeless, it is clearly time to amend our Housing legislation to reflect that constitutional change.

“Under the current Housing Acts, children have no individual rights in the context of homelessness- the needs of one or both parents may be assessed, but there is no legislation to make sure homeless families have rights as a family unit.

“This was highlighted by the shocking reports last summer of 12 families- including 30 children- that were sent to Garda stations, as they couldn’t be accommodated by homeless services in Dublin.

“The Labour Party’s Homeless Families Bill seeks to ensure that a different approach to be taken when a family unit presents as homeless.

“If enacted, the legislation would require housing authorities to regard the best interests of the child as paramount and to protect and assist families, including by providing them with safe accommodation.

“It would also ensure that there is a holistic response to support the needs of families in hotels and hubs with, not just a roof over their heads, but the wider requirement to support and encourage the effective functioning of families and the development, welfare and protection of children within the family home.

“Each one of those 3,124 homeless children only has one childhood and chance to grow in a nurturing environment.

“It is time to make sure that families who find themselves in homeless situations can at least know that the needs of their children will be put centre-stage – as they should be.”

ENDS

Labour’s Housing (Homeless Families) Bill 2017 will be debated at second stage during Private Members Time this evening from 4.45pm.

Details of the Bill can be found here:

http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/bills/2017/10017/b10017d.pdf

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