Shocking | 

Dad-of-four forced to sleep in car during storms after councils 'skirt responsibility'

Kevin Griffith has been able to wash just once a week and is living off chocolate bars as he spends his social welfare payment on diesel to keep warm
Kevin Griffith

Kevin Griffith

Gerry Hand

A father of four has been forced to sleep in his car through the recent storms after two councils failed to decide who should have responsibility for getting him accommodation.

Kevin Griffith has been reduced to being able to wash just once a week and is living off chocolate bars as he spends his social welfare payment on diesel for his eighteen year old Mercedes.

The thirty-five-year-old's problems stems from the fact he was living in Camross, County Laois with his partner when their relationship broke up in March 2021 and he moved into emergency accommodation down there.

Shortly afterwards he got a job in Navan, County Meath, which lasted until December last year and when it ended he was left unable to afford the rent on his flat.

Kevin Griffith

Kevin Griffith

When he approached Meath County Council seeking emergency accommodation they told him that as he had no local connections he should apply to Laois again but when he did they told him that as his last address was in Meath he was their problem.

That happened after he went through a bizarre process to speak to someone in Laois in the first place.

Fed-up Kevin said ‘When the people in Meath said I had to be looked after by Laois, I drove to Portlaoise and went up to the council reception area and asked to speak to a certain housing official that I had dealt with before.

"Incredibly the receptionist insisted I had to ring that official first so went through the ridiculous charade of me standing the opposite side of the desk from the receptionist ringing and watching her pick up the phone and saying hello to me!

"To make matters worse the official refused to come down and speak to me face to face despite the fact there was only a flight of stairs between us.

"So I came back up and explained all this to the Meath lot and they still refused to do anything for me.

"I’ve been left living in the car since the end of January, I cannot afford to eat properly as I have to keep the engine running to keep myself warm, and some nights it has been bloody freezing recently.

"I’ve lost weight because I am not eating properly, after I have spent my social welfare on diesel I can only afford to snack on chocolate bars and biscuits.

The inside of Kevin's car

The inside of Kevin's car

"I go a mate's house once a week for a shower and a shave, and the whole thing is just so depressing.

If I had done something wrong I’d hold my hands up, but none of this is my fault and yet because of a silly rule nobody wants to help me."

Meath councillor Alan Lawes regularly volunteers with homeless aid groups and has blasted both councils for hiding behind a rule that once existed saying people seeking emergency accommodation had to have a connection to the local area they are in.

He said, "I emailed the housing minister Darragh O’Brien about this and the reply restated what he had said in 2020 which is that local authorities have been told to ensure that local connection issues are not providing a barrier to people getting emergency accommodation.

Meath councillor Alan Lawes

Meath councillor Alan Lawes

"Who's running the show here because it seems to me the bosses' orders are being ignored?

"Kevin is caught up in the middle of a silly dispute but officials seem to be forgetting one thing he is a human being and deserves to be treated properly not being shoved to one side because of a rule they know no longer applies.

"It is time the councils started doing their job properly and stopped hiding behind red tape."

Both councils have been contacted for comment.

Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices