Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, is in Galway today to speak at the launch of COPE Galway’s 2016 Annual Report.
COPE Galway today revealed a 27% increase in the numbers of families asking for help due to being homeless or the risk of homelessness in Galway.
There was also a disturbing 39% increase in the numbers of children experiencing homelessness in Galway.
Dr Shannon spoke of how a child’s human rights are seriously affected where a child is placed in emergency accommodation and how their basic rights to play, rest and space often cannot be enjoyed when living in emergency accommodation.
He explained: “The Committee on the Rights of the Child points to well-established understandings of the importance to children of play, leisure and rest. It is intrinsic to children’s healthy development that they sufficiently enjoy these rights and it is, therefore, a crucial children’s rights and child protection issue.”
He also referenced the 1989 UN convention on the Rights of the Child, which talks of the special phase of childhood which is deeply affected by a child being housed in emergency accommodation.
“Childhood is for a limited period of time and cannot be reclaimed if a child has a sub-optimal experience due to inadequate housing.
“The measure of a democracy is the manner in which the needs of the most vulnerable are considered and met. Yet all too often children are treated as passive spectators in the debate on adequate housing in Ireland.
“We need to imagine a new republic based on equality for all children,” he added.
COPE Galway CEO, Jacquie Horan presented the full extent of the numbers of people experiencing homelessness in Galway in 2016.
“Unfortunately, as the Housing Crisis is particularly acute in Galway city, that number continues to increase, with the latest Department of Housing figures showing further increases in August.
“B&Bs and Hotels in Galway City continue to play an important role in accommodating families who become homeless.
“But this type of accommodation is not the answer to the homelessness crisis being experienced by so many families and individuals in Galway city and county.”