The little boy clutched his teddy bear. His hair was a mess of curls, his face mucky but he just looked through the glass window as his mother tried to find emergency accommodation.
The child, no more than three-years-old, was oblivious that his life was in chaos as his mother discussed the brutal and all too familiar fact that she was homeless in an Irish housing office today.
Ireland Today walked through the office to get a picture of a scene that is beyond crisis point in a country that has been labelled internationally as on the road upwards to recovery.
It seemed the mother in question and her small child were being directed to an urban hotel – there they would find a place to live.
As she held her head in her hands, no doubt in contemplation of how she would manage living in a hotel with a small boy, it seemed her torment would go on for a limitless time, given figures showing the sheer number of people in her position.
The average waiting time to get a council house in Dublin is now around 11 years.
And in July The Irish Times reported that 42,000 people, including almost 16,500 children, were waiting to be housed by Dublin City Council. This was the highest number ever seeking social housing in the city.
Of course this number will have grown significantly in this time because new Government figures reveal the shocking truth that one more family became homeless every day in February.
The Department of environment figures show 3,105 people were homeless in the last week of that month. This was also the month the General Election took place – and also the month Enda Kenny spouted the phrase that surely must irk these families Let’s keep the recovery going.
The figures show a rise of almost 3% in just one month. 1,881 of these figures were children, who have become a statistic, and 600 were single parents – the poorest people in Ireland by far.
More than two-thirds of the people are based in Dublin – the city where today it was revealed a rapid housing project could cost a staggering €243,000 per unit to build in Ballymum, also one of the poorest areas of the capital.
The figure reported by RTE was more than the €100,000 originally discussed for modular housing units.
While this mother – and her small child hanging on to his innocent childhood teddy bear face in to the abyss – the contractor who won the Ballymum tender could be paid up to €4.7m including VAT to build housing in an emergency situation for the homeless.
Western Building Systems Ltd will build 22 homes in Ballymun – a project that has been delayed by bad weather and protests, RTE reported.
The “estimated total cost” inclusive of VAT, is set at €5.3m.
The broadcaster reported that Dublin City Council said it would be entirely inappropriate and misleading to make any comment on the issue of costs as they were are currently involved in the final account negotiations with the contractor.
“Furthermore, we regard the discussion of costs to be strictly confidential and commercially sensitive to both ourselves and the Contractor until the tender process is concluded,” the council told RTE.
“Consequently, we are not in a position to comment on the matter of costs at this juncture. However, we would be happy to provide detail of the final accounts once the process is complete,” the statement added.