‘Post-truth’ reaches the homelessness crisis
When is an “alternative fact” a fact? When it’s uttered by powerful people in pivotal public positions. Statements on the housing and homelessness crises made by people such as Leo Varadkar(1), Conor Skehan(2) and Eileen Gleeson(3) in recent days shows us that clearly untrue statements are presumed, by those stating them, to be accepted and swallowed whole by a docile and acquiescing populace. 


We could offer a plethora of actual facts here based on studies both nationally and internationally showing that we do indeed have a housing crisis, we do indeed have a homelessness crisis, we do indeed need immediate and colossal investment in social housing, we do indeed need immediate rent controls, we do indeed need a moratorium on evictions....but we won’t. These facts are out there in the public domain for everyone (including those powerful people in pivotal public positions), to read.
Instead we are going to say this;
WE.ARE.ANGRY. VERY.VERY.ANGRY.
And you should be too.
We are social workers, we are people working in the human professions, we are service users. We know there is a homelessness crisis. We are living it and seeing it every single day. We have for years. We saw this coming. We shouted. They ignored. We know there is a housing crisis. We are living it and seeing it every single day. We saw this coming. We shouted. They ignored. We know that there is a generation of young people whose futures are being destroyed because of these crises. We are living it and seeing it every single day. We saw this coming. We shouted. They ignored. We know there are thousands of children and young people whose mental health is suffering and whose mental health will suffer for years to come because of these crises. We are living it and seeing it every single day. We saw this coming. We shouted. They ignored. We know there are thousands of people staying in unsafe and potentially dangerous situations e.g. domestic violence relationships; children and young people in psychologically, sexually, emotionally, physically abusive situations, because of these crises. We are living it and seeing it every single day. We saw this coming. We shouted. They ignored.
Our Demands

  1. We are calling for the immediate removal of Mr. Skehan from his position as chair of the Housing Agency. To have someone with such a blatant disregard for people as Mr. Skehan in this position is unacceptable. The callousness he has shown in his statements towards people in poverty and people experiencing homelessness is quite shocking. In this regard we in SWAN Ireland have no faith that the Housing Agency’s agenda is fair and unbiased and are concerned about the future development of housing policy in this regard. We are also very concerned about how the housing needs of other marginalised populations such as those with mental health difficulties, learning disabilities or people from ethnic minority communities for example, might be viewed by an Agency led by someone like Mr. Skehan.
  2. We are also calling for the immediate retraction of remarks made by Mr. Skehan in media reports in recent days(4) and months(5) along with a clear and forthright apology.
  3. We call on Mr. Varadkar to retract his statements in recent days(6,7), concerning his repeated quotes of inaccurate information regarding the homelessness crisis. We call on Mr. Varadkar to issue a statement outlining the actual facts regarding the homelessness crisis in the country and to use current statistics to reflect this.
  4. We call for the immediate removal of Ms. Gleeson from her position in the Dublin Regional Homelessness Executive (DRHE). We in SWAN Ireland have no faith that the DRHE’s agenda is fair and unbiased and are concerned about the manner in which the DHRE will implement its statutory duties in light of the appalling comments made by the Executive’s Director in recent days(8). We are also very concerned about how the needs of other marginalised populations who may need to access homelessness services, such as those with mental health difficulties, learning disabilities or people from ethnic minority communities for example, might be viewed by an Agency led by someone like Ms. Gleeson.
  5. We are also calling for the immediate retraction of the remarks made by Ms. Gleeson in media reports in recent days along with a clear and forthright apology.

We ask that all of our supporters and members call for these demands too. Please email your TD’s, post this on your social media accounts, ask your friends and family to act too. We aren’t asking for anything radical, just that people, all people, are treated with dignity and that our public representatives treat us with respect when it comes to offering us factual information.
Yours in solidarity,
The SWAN Ireland Steering Committee

  1. http://www.thejournal.ie/leo-varadkar-homelessness-3691835-Nov2017/
  2. http://www.thejournal.ie/homelessness-normal-conor-skehan-3693850-Nov2017/
  3. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/volunteers-giving-only-food-to-homeless-not-helpful-official-says-1.3292063
  4. http://www.thejournal.ie/homelessness-normal-conor-skehan-3693850-Nov2017/
  5. http://www.thejournal.ie/conor-skehan-housing-agency-ireland-2-3656223-Oct2017/
  6. https://www.google.ie/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=6&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiiov-7vrzXAhWKPRoKHSuMCtoQFghDMAU&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.irishexaminer.com%2Fbreakingnews%2Fireland%2Fleo-varadkar-claims-irelands-homelessness-levels-are-low-by-international-standards-813706.html&usg=AOvVaw3bfGpkT2vULENVAnoG1D2k
  7. https://www.google.ie/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiiov-7vrzXAhWKPRoKHSuMCtoQFghGMAY&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.independent.ie%2Firish-news%2Fpolitics%2Ftaoiseach-insists-ireland-has-one-of-the-lowest-levels-of-homelessness-36310203.html&usg=AOvVaw2q9Z0LY0nViMLLJ_9zqNGm
  8. http://www.thejournal.ie/eileen-gleeson-homeless-3699069-Nov2017/