Yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar claimed that Ireland's homelessness crisis was 'low' by international standards.
The Taoiseach spoke on the second day of the Fine Gael national conference in Cavan, and insisted that the Government would be turning the tide on homelessness none the less.
Facing backlash over his remark, on Twitter, Varadkar responded to critics: 'Context matters.'
Context matters. Was asked a question yesterday about Ireland having one of the highest homelessness levels. We don’t by international comparison. That's a fact. It is nonetheless a stain on our society and we’ll do all we can to eliminate it.
— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) November 12, 2017
'Was asked a question yesterday about Ireland having one of the highest homelessness levels. We don’t by international comparison. That's a fact.,' he said.
He then drew further criticism from citizens with the following statement:
'It is nonetheless a stain on our society and we’ll do all we can to eliminate it.'
Twitter users were taken aback by the turn of phrase used by the Taoiseach. 'Yes context matters Taoiseach and referring to homelessness as a "stain on society" is an unpalatable statement,' said one user.
Poor choice of words, it’s not a ‘stain’ it’s a deeply tragic result of neglecting those who need support most. Mental illness, domestic violence & breakdown, drug addiction, poverty… Lack of support for the most vulnerable. Unacceptable in today’s Ireland. let’s fix this!!
— Emily Jane Kindness (@EJKindness) November 12, 2017
Niamh Randall, spokesperson for The Simon Communities of Ireland, challenged the Taoiseach's statement via Twitter:
'This narrative must be challenged. It’s is not true.Other countries use a broader definition of homelessness when gathering their statistics our monthly statistics only record a limited number – those who are in Section 10 funded emergency accommodation.'
'These monthly numbers do not include rough sleepers & those staying is squats, hidden homelessness people living in unsuitable, overcrowded, unsustainable accommodation, those in accommodation not funded through section 10 – many thousands of people struggling.'