Independent inspections of emergency accommodation urged amid fire safety fears

ireland
Independent Inspections Of Emergency Accommodation Urged Amid Fire Safety Fears Independent Inspections Of Emergency Accommodation Urged Amid Fire Safety Fears
Homeless report, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Cate McCurry, PA

Opposition parties have called for independent inspectors to investigate private emergency accommodation.

It came after a report revealed that more than a third of privately operated emergency housing in Dublin has fire safety issues.

Inspections carried out by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive found that there were failures around emergency evacuation routes and the supply of fire blankets.

The report was obtained by RTÉ following a Freedom of Information request.

 

It also emerged that safety inspections were suspended a year ago because of Covid-19.

Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin described the revelations as “shocking but not surprising”.

The party’s housing spokesman said the report exposed a “shocking indictment” of the State’s failure to protect homeless people.

Mr Ó Broin urged the Government to bring in Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) inspectors.

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“I first raised the need for fully independent inspections of all emergency accommodation, private and public, in 2017,” Mr Ó Broin said.

“I wrote to (former minister) Katherine Zappone and urged them to change it so that HIQA would do independent inspections of all emergency accommodation.

“We hear repeated complaints from people in emergency accommodation, particularly private, of poor quality standards, fire safety issues, of infestation and insects. The idea you wouldn’t have independent inspections is unacceptable.”

His comments were echoed by Social Democrat TD Cian O’Callaghan.

Mr O’Callaghan said the report confirms that national quality standards have not been applied to the private provision of emergency accommodation.

“We have a situation where the Minister for Housing (Darragh O’Brien) has repeatedly stated that they are being applied, when we now know again that this is not the case.

“We have a minister who is in denial about this, he was in denial about the local connection rules, he repeatedly said that people were not being turned away from emergency accommodation due to local connection rules.

“We also see a Minster for Housing who is in denial about the evidence and the commentary on the shared equity scheme.

“There’s been a myriad of commentators and evidence from Central Bank and ESRI saying that it’s going to increase house prices and the Minister for Housing keeps on denying that.

“I just want to call on the Minister for Housing to appoint the HIQA to inspect private emergency accommodation.

“It’s not acceptable that homeless accommodation has not been inspected, it’s not acceptable that in some instances there’s no written reports, it’s been done on an ad hoc basis.

“We need a proper body like HIQA to inspect on an ongoing basis.

“We should really be moving resources away from private emergency accommodation to long-term secure housing.”

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