The Health Service Executive (HSE) has said it is "actively in negotiations" with the Department of Health "to obtain funds to meet the needs of homeless people in Ireland". (The language alone rolls up my toe nails and tells me that absolutely nothing is done, except bureaucrats wrapping themselves in their legalistic language.)
This follows a report by RTÉ's Prime Time TV programme, which found that newly built homeless accommodation is not used because the HSE says it "could not afford the staff needed to operate them".
Last night's programme reported that the HSE's decision to cut this year's funding for the homeless services is jeopardising a government plan, aimed at eliminating the problem.
Seven homeless people died in Dublin alone in a two-week period over Easter this year, and at the same time at least five major homeless facilities in Dublin were either lying idle or being totally under-utilised due to a lack of HSE funding!
A 30-bed facility in James Street was due to open earlier this year but remains closed, while in Brunswick Street only seven of 17 family units have been used since January.
Prime Time also reported that a new homeless service in Middle Abbey Street has been denied HSE funding for its running costs, and in Cork Street an emergency accommodation facility for homeless people with special needs remains still under-utilised. And in Bolton Street, the future of a proposed accommodation facility also hangs in the balance. And this is only the situation in Dublin. There are also homeless people in other Irish cities and towns, where there is often no facility for them at all.
So while the Taoiseach and his extensive traveling party, which includes old party chums and family members, is staying at one of the most expensive hotels in Washington D.C. - at taxpayers' expense - the homeless of Dublin, who were always one of Bertie Ahern's concerns, are neglected because the HSE claims a lack of funds. What a den of hypocrites we are... and a real banana republic without bananas.
The Emerald Islander