The savage death of Timmy Hourihane in Cork city over the weekend reveals the continuing and worsening homelessness crisis in our society. Our sympathies go out to Mr. Hourihane's family and friends. The nature of his death illustrates the fragility and vulnerability of many homeless people. There is a growing fear factor, whether it is in terms of safety in hostels, in tents or on the streets. This is the sixth death on the streets in Cork so far this year. Nationally, approximately 50 homeless people die every year. An increased supply of secure accommodation is the key step to tackling the scale of this crisis. The more secure a person's accommodation is, the lower is the risk of dying.
The problem is escalating year after year. In 2014, Cork City Council spent more than €100,000 on bed and breakfasts and hotels for homeless people, including many families. In 2018, it spent €3 million on such services, and that figure is growing. Homelessness in Cork city increased by 30% in the year to August, and has also increased in the south west generally. I agree with today's Irish Examiner editorial, which states: "All efforts to confront this toxic crisis have been, on political, ideological, cultural and practical levels, failures." There is no other way of describing it.
I spoke to the Simon Community yesterday. Its emergency centre is overflowing every night. It told me that there were 18 tents in the location where Timmy Hourihane was savagely beaten to death. Ms Caitriona Twomey of Cork Penny Dinners, a well-known and popular facility where many homeless people and families in distress are fed, described Timmy as the warmest, kindest man. She also said that this is a warning to the Government that it must solve the homelessness crisis now. She said people are dying and we need more homes, housing, treatment centres and support services. The Government's response to date has not been of sufficient scale, creativity or urgency to deal with this. Does the Taoiseach accept that Government policies for reducing homelessness to date have clearly failed?
Does he accept there has been a lack of urgency, creativity and scale to address the chronic housing and homelessness crisis and that 50 deaths a year among our homeless community on our streets is a damning indictment of the Government's failures?