Housing minister accused of incompetence over homeless figures

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has been accused of being incompetent over the miscalculation of homeless figures.

Sinn Fein’s housing spokesman Eoin O Broin questioned the minister’s ability to do his job as Mr Murphy confirmed that “significant mis-categorisations” had been discovered while preparing the homeless figures for March and the total number of people in emergency accommodation had been overstated.

Mr O Broin earlier this month accused the minister of manipulating the statistics to ensure the number remained below 10,000.

Mr Murphy was answering questions at the Oireachtas housing committee on Thursday to discuss progress of Rebuilding Ireland and homeless figures.

The Sinn Fein TD said either the housing minister did not understand the difference between a tenancy and emergency accommodation or Mr Murphy did understand but he was still allowing hundreds of families be removed from the figures.

“If that’s the case and it doesn’t give me pleasure to say it, you’re not fit to hold the office,” Mr O Broin said.

“You cannot remove families from homeless figures when they are in emergency accommodation without tenancies.”

Mr Murphy said the charges Mr O Broin levelled against him were very serious.

”You accept the mis-categorisation, you have accepted that this has happened, I’m the person responsible for getting to the bottom of this. You don’t have the complete information and that’s the dangerous thing about what you’re doing,” the minister said.

He added: “It takes time to collate the information correctly.”

The minister said the reporting model for homeless figures needed to be reformed to ensure accuracy.

He claimed: “A number of local authorities have erroneously categorised individuals and families living in local authority owned or leased housing stock.

“To date, at least 600 individuals have been identified as having been categorised as living in emergency accommodation when they are not.

“Some, but not all, of these individuals have been removed from the total numbers with the agreement of local authorities.”

The department data recorded 9,681 people as being homeless in March.

- Press Association

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