Mum And Three Children Forced To Live In Car

A mother and her three children have resorted to sleeping in their car as they cannot get emergency accommodation.

Every night, Sabrina McMahon, 36, goes to bed in the driver's seat of her Vauxhall Vectra, with her five-year-old son Karl in the back next to his sisters, three-year-old Michaela and 18-month-old Chelsea, who sleep in their car seats.

"We're all wrecked. I'm exhausted," said Sabrina, from Tallaght, Dublin. "They ask where we're going and I tell them I have nowhere to bring them. I feel like a hopeless parent, just hopeless.

"I'm in the driver's seat. I don't put the seat back because they have so little space as it is. When Michaela wakes for a bottle I knock on the engine to warm up the car."

The family's possessions have been stashed in the car's boot since Sabrina's appeal for emergency housing was rejected by the local council last week.

The family had been living in a council house in Co Kildare, but last year Sabrina decided to move to Dublin, where she is originally from, after thugs broke into their home and she no longer felt safe in the area.

Sabrina registered on South Dublin County Council's housing waiting list and had been staying with family and friends while waiting for accommodation to become available.

But after more than a year of relying on people to put her up, Sabrina says last week she 'had to stop asking.'

"It's a lot to ask," she said to The Irish Times. "To ask someone to have a whole family staying in their house."

Sabrina tried to find private rented accommodation but was unable to find a landlord who would accept rent allowance.

So she went to the Dublin Central Placement Service to enquire about emergency accommodation, but was told she had to have been living in Dublin for one more month before she would qualify for a homeless unit there.

"They have told me that I have to go back to Kildare because that is the last place I had a permanent address," Sabrina told The Irish Mirror.

"But my life is here. This is where I'm from. Karl is settled in school and my three-year-old has to go to speech therapy in Dublin as well. It would be a massive change for us to move anywhere."

A former dental nurse and carer, Sabrina says she would like to go back to work, but she is finding it difficult to get a job while she has no permanent address.

A spokesperson for South Dublin County Council told The Irish Times they were 'aware' of the case, but did not wish to make any further comment at this stage.