Tuesday, 14 December 2021
Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (Extension of Notice Periods) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]
Sinn Féin is criticised by the Government for not providing solutions to the issues of the day. Week after week and day after day we come to this Chamber with viable solutions on housing, health, mental health, education and practically everything else. In fact, our spokesperson for housing and my constituency colleague, Deputy Ó Broin, has provided that many solutions on housing that he has written a couple of books on this matter. I do not think I have ever bought a Fianna Fáil Deputy a Christmas present but I might just do that this year in respect of one of the books that Deputy Ó Broin has written. It is the season, after all.
This Bill proposes a small but important change to the Residential Tenancies Act.
It is supported by the five Opposition groups in the Dáil, as well as by the Simon Communities of Ireland. Homelessness among adults and children has increased in each of the past four months. Those increases are directly related to the dramatic rise in the number of notices to quit issued since the Government lifted the ban on such notices.
I was at a meeting of Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth earlier today. The committee heard about the impact poverty is having on children. One of the main contributions to children being in crisis is the housing crisis. The committee heard about the poverty of homelessness and the paucity of good quality or secure accommodation. At the meeting, a representative of the Rialto Youth Project spoke about how, for a child, this poverty is like being in a bubble. It touched me so much that I decided to bring those words into this Chamber. She spoke about a bubble:
The bubble? We’re inside it. You see everything and everyone through the bubble. And everyone sees the bubble when they look at you. They make decisions about you. They tell you, you can’t. They tell you, you won’t. They tell you, you’ll never. They measure you with invisible rulers. You will come to love the bubble and hate it. What does your bubble feel like ...? My bubble feels like a shell on my back. It’s heavy. I hope yours is light and floaty and beautiful. And I hope it’s easy to get out of.
Out of the mouths of babes. These are the words of children. Enacting the Bill will help these children to get out of that bubble. We need more action to be taken to keep families in their homes and prevent them from entering homelessness in the first place.