The CEO of Dublin City Council has said rising homeless figures are not necessarily negative but could reflect the fact that better facilities are now available for those who present as homeless.

Owen Keegan told RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke that he was unhappy with the high numbers, but that in some way, they illustrated the openness and sympathetic approach of Dublin City Council.

Mr Keegan said the improvement in the provision and quality of accommodation is giving people choices that they may not have had before.

He said it was not unreasonable to point out that there have been major improvements in the quality of homeless services and accommodation and while he was happy that good services are on offer, he believes this does make homelessness a more attractive option than it previously was.

Mr Keegan said it is "quite possible" that people in difficult situations in a family home might choose to leave that situation, where they are not counted as homeless, and present as homeless to see if they can get into a family hub.

This, he said, might be a better option for many because they would be able to get onto a housing list. 

Mr Keegan said he did not believe people were playing the system but the rising number of homeless is always portrayed as negative and this is not always the case.

Mr Keegan said he was confident that DCC would achieve the target figures set for social housing provision.

However, he said the problem would not be resolved until there was significant growth in the provision of private houses.

Responding to Mr Keegan’s comments, Director of Advocacy at Focus Ireland Mike Allen said people do not want to be homeless.

"If they do become homeless, they want to be supported in their own town where they live," he said.

He added: "The homeless services in Dublin, much improved as they are, are not a magnet for anybody."

Sinn Féin has called on Mr Keegan to apologise for his remarks.

Eoin Ó Broin the party’s spokesperson on housing, said the Dublin City Council Chief Executive "added insult to injury today."

"The cause of homelessness is not families choosing to become homeless or choosing to stay in emergency accommodation, it’s the lack of social and affordable homes," he said.

He added: "Not only do I think he is out of touch, I think what he said is deeply insulting to parents, who through no fault of their own, have ended up in emergency accommodation."