A young mum who slept in a Garda station in Dublin with six of her children has said she is heartbroken.
Margaret Cash, 28, was forced to sleep in Tallaght Garda Station due to lack of emergency homeless accommodation on Wednesday night.
“I was heartbroken that I couldn’t do more for them as a mother, I was ashamed to see my kids splattered round a station floor like that,” she said.
Ms Cash and her seven children – Johnny, 11, Tommy, 10, Rebecca, nine, Miley, seven, Jim, four, Rocky, two, and Andy, one – have been in emergency accommodation for over a year after her landlord went bankrupt and their house was repossessed.
She has been in different one-night emergency family accommodations ever since.
This is Ms Cash’s third time being sent to a Garda station with nowhere to go.
She circulated pictures of her children sleeping there on social media after she said she could not take any more.
Ms Cash says the year has taken its toll on the children and her own mental health.
“The kids know they’re homeless, they kept saying: ‘Mammy what are we going to do?’ I had to tell them the Garda station, because it was either that or sleep under some cardboard outside.
“The little ones were scared, and worried about who was going to come in, and we didn’t have any blankets until midnight.
“The kids slept for a couple of hours, but were awake again at 6am.
“It’s so stressful to not know where you’re going to put your kids to bed at night.
“You’ll never know what it’s like until it happens to you, anyone can be homeless, it can happen so quickly.”
The Government and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy have come under intense pressure since the photos were published and housing waiting lists continue to rise.
I feel like before now no one wanted to know, we're swept under the carpetMargaret Cash
Ms Cash says she feels abandoned by the Government.
“I hope and pray Eoghan Murphy’s family never have to go through this.
“The Government don’t care, their families are safe and warm, why would they care about us?
“I feel like before now no one wanted to know, we’re swept under the carpet.
“It’s hard to think you have to put it on social media for people to wake up.
“I’m not the only person like this, other children slept in Garda stations last night too, that’s the truth, there’s hundreds of families like mine.
“In emergency accommodation, I’d see lots of families with kids, we’d walk out in the morning and spend all day waiting until we can go to the next place.
“I phone hotels and hostels every day, but with family our size where can we get a hotel that will take in nine of us?
“I eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner, and wash my clothes in a wash house.
“We’re expected to walk the streets all day, or go to playgrounds, my kids are sick of playgrounds.”
Currently none of the children have been enrolled for school in September as due to their housing situation, it is impossible to know what school they would be able to travel to every day.
The Pope’s arrival in Dublin has been a source of anxiety for many homeless advocates as the influx of tourists and visitors could pack out many hotels that are usually used for emergency accommodation.
Homeless families face being moved out of the capital to neighbouring counties.
“It’s not fair, the only bit of support and family you have is in Dublin and they can move you away – is life not hard enough?”
Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) said they were dealing with unprecedented numbers.
“The DRHE is very aware of the difficult circumstances that families experiencing homelessness have to face.
“On the night of August 8, an unprecedented number of families presented out of hours seeking emergency accommodation.
“The Family Homeless Action Team were actively engaged with 10 families, who were unable to source their own accommodation.”