Rights groups in Dublin have called on city officials to prevent the displacement of homeless people staying in emergency accommodation during the pope's upcoming visit to Ireland.
The Irish Department of Housing has been accused of planning to remove families currently housed in various hotels and bed and breakfasts in order to make room for the influx of tourists arriving for the pontiff.
The Dublin Region Homelessness Executive said in a statement on Tuesday that no families currently residing in emergency accommodation will be forced out of Dublin.
"We have been working closely with private accommodation providers and ensured that existing hotel / B&B family accommodation bookings will not be adversely affected during the Papal visit," said the statement.
But if families sleeping rough present themselves later, they may be provided with accommodation outside of the Dublin region.
"We will endeavour in the first instance, to accommodate any families that newly present during the Papal visit within the Dublin Region. However as part of our additional contingency measures, a certain number of spaces are located outside of the Dublin Region, these will be utilised only when absolutely necessary."
But rights groups remain sceptical. This is largely due to an Irish Times report that quoted Dublin Region Homelessness Executive's director Eileen Gleeson as saying the papal visit “may involve us having to take people and put them in accommodation outside of the pressure points and move them to outside of the Dublin region”.
Dublin Inner City Helping Homeless agency (ICHH) spokesperson Brian McLoughlin told Euronews he had sincere doubts that the government would keep its word and not displace homeless families this August 25 and 26 in order to make room for tourists.
He noted that it was common practice for families to be forced out of emergency accommodation in hotels and B&Bs in Dublin during bank holidays and otherwise busy weekends so that the rooms could be sold for a higher price to visitors.
During these times families are often sent to sleep in local Garda, or police, stations.
According to the agency, there are 10,000 homeless people in Ireland, including 4,000 children.
The papal visit is expected to cost the government €32 million, equating to approximately €1 million per hour of the visit.
McLoughlin expressed his wish for Pope Francis to use his platform to address the severity of the homelessness situation in Ireland and to make it clear that "the government needs to take action".