An aerial view of the eastern side of the town of Castlebar. PHOTO: JACK WALSH

Homeless figures today are equivalent to the population of Castlebar - TD

The Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has said that the number of people homeless in Ireland today equates to the population of the town of Castlebar.

He said the multitude of solutions put forward by the opposition need to be implemented as a matter of urgency.

He was speaking after homeless figures today hit a new record, having breached 12,000. Over 4,000 of those who are homeless are children.

Deputy Tóibín said: "This is a humanitarian crisis. The overall figures are shocking, but especially the number of homeless children.

"The government need to stop thinking about solutions and ideas, and actually start implementing them.

"They must urgently back the Aontú Bill on Air BnB's which seeks to revert B&Bs back to their original set-up whereby the owner lives in the property, in any town or city where the population is greater than 10,000.

"This would mean an end to the practice of tourists renting empty properties for large periods. We cannot persist with a ludicrous situation which sees tourists occupy houses, while families and students are in hotels and hostels".

Deputy Tóibín continued: "We also need government to urgently provide funding to each local authority around the country so they can bring their vacant properties back into use.

"There are currently hundreds, if not thousands, of council houses around the country which are empty or boarded up.

"These are properties already in the ownership of the state. It is an utter disgrace that these properties are being left idle and that the State is hoarding vacant properties in the middle of this crisis".

"There are also vacant properties owned by the OPW and various government departments, including a number of former Garda stations and Garda dwellings which Aontú believes should immediately be handed over to the local authorities within which they are lying empty.

"The government cannot keep rejecting every proposal put forward by the opposition and claiming that they have better ideas - the figures speak for themselves - the housing crisis is spiralling out of control," concluded Tóibín.