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Families sleeping in Garda stations is now `relatively frequent' - Fr Peter McVerry

Tallaght Garda station in Dublin where a mother and six children were given shelter. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

FAMILIES sleeping in Garda stations is now "relatively frequent", a homelessness campaigner has said, after pictures emerged of a mother and six children in Dublin.

The children aged from one to 11 were forced to sleep on plastic seating in Tallaght station after being told all emergency accommodation was full.

Newry priest Fr Peter McVerry, a prominent campaigner on homeless issues, said he was "shocked but not surprised" by the sight as it has been going on for "some months".

The Jesuit priest told RTÉ radio such occurrences are relatively frequent, and the only difference this time was that there were photographs.

The Peter McVerry Trust has 11 homeless hostels, over 100 apartments, a residential drug detox centre and two drug stabilisation services

However, Fr McVerry said the majority of families presenting as homeless are coming from the private rental sector, and until this is tackled it would be like "trying to empty the bathwater with the tap still on".

He warned an "avalanche of homelessness" is coming down the road, as government `hubs' are not nearly enough to cope with the crisis.

Fr McVerry said the crisis is the worst it has ever been.

The Garda Representative Association said stations are "wholly unsuitable" accommodation for homeless families, with spokesman John O'Keeffe expressing "horror" at the plight of the young family in Tallaght.

He said gardaí were "doing the best they could" and described the homeless crisis "a national shame".

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