Homeless woman asks Minister for rights to have a visitor in emergency accommodation

Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy
By Noel Baker
Senior Reporter and Social Affairs Correspondent

"I am only looking to have the one visitor over. I am not looking for much as we are in emergency accommodation so long now I feel this is unfair. I am not on drugs, I do not cause any anti-social behaviour, I am not a murderer, I am not a drug dealer or a criminal."

The words of a woman in correspondence with Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, raising one issue that is sometimes overlooked in the current homelessness crisis - the absence of normal, everyday visit.

The emailed correspondence was released under a Freedom of Information request, the only item released while six other similar records were refused.

In the email, dated April 6 last, the woman refers to a query regarding rights to have a visitor over while in emergency accommodation and the rules set by Dublin City Council.

"I cannot comprehend that if we stay in emergency accommodation for six months or more that we should be allowed visitors," she wrote.

"I cannot exactly go out much as I have my son to look after. I cannot exactly leave him on his own therefore it's easier if my visitor comes over. I do not see any one. I'm very lonely. I'm not asking for much. I do not want to cause any trouble."

The letter writer says she and her son have been living by the rules so far "but I can no longer live like this."

She refers to delays in being offered social housing and of requesting that she be allowed a visitor only to be told no because of rules which, she said, no one seemed able to define.

I feel like I am living in fear. . . as they could just throw us out of here. I cannot live with that threat.

She expresses her thanks to Minister Murphy's predecessor in the Housing Department, Simon Coveney, for his assistance regarding "a very bad hotel" where she had previously stayed.

"I feel like we have no privacy as we are constantly been watched by cameras," she said. "I feel I have no privacy because of this issue. Another issue under my sons human right is that he has no where to play."

In the response, dated August 10 last, a member of Minister Murphy's staff said "the delay in replying is regretted" and said the issue raised by the letter writer was "an operational issue" and therefore a matter for Dublin City Council.

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