The Minister for Housing has said that comments by the Director of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive were trying to demonstrate how the outcomes for homeless people are better if efforts are coordinated.

Eoghan Murphy said "sometimes people use the wrong words" and that Eileen Gleeson brings much compassion to her job.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, he said the homeless crisis would be a lot worse if it was not for people like Ms Gleeson.

"All she was saying is that the outcomes for these people are better when we coordinate our efforts.

"She wasn't saying 'don't give the cup of soup', what she was talking about was that all of the voluntary sector that is funded by the taxpayer do better work if we work together".

He added: "Sometimes people use the wrong choice of words, that doesn't mean that she doesn't bring compassion to her job.

"I've been down to the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, and this problem would be a lot worse if it wasn't for the Eileen Gleesons of this world, if it wasn't for the Focus', the Peter McVerry trusts and the Simon Community.

"The key thing is that we all work together."

Ms Gleeson said this morning that unauthorised volunteers who help homeless people were well intentioned, but they do not have an end game.

She said their intervention can prevent those in need from availing of supports that professionals can give in order to help move people out of rough sleeping and permanent homelessness.

Ms Gleeson said that homelessness is complicated and there are standards and requirements that must be met in providing these services, particularly when dealing with vulnerable adults and children.

The latest figures show that there are more than 8,300 homeless people in Ireland. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Ms Gleeson said it would be more beneficial if volunteers linked in with the professional services, such as the Simon Community and Focus Ireland, in providing outreach services.

Mr Murphy also said that there is not, as some in the opposition have claimed, a co-ordinated policy of down-playing the crisis in housing and "normalising" the levels of homelessness in this country.

He said that the Housing Agency's Conor Skehan has said that homelessness is an issue in every Western economy at the moment,"so in some ways it is normal", but he added that "he wasn't saying that the situations that these people face in their daily lives is normal".

Minister Murphy said the Taoiseach's remarks last week on homelessness were "a response in terms of international comparisons" after he said Leo Varadkar was asked to compare Ireland's homelessness levels internationally.

Homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry has said he was "furious" at Ms Gleeson's comments, which he described as an "insult to many homeless people".

He said Ms Gleeson’s comments that many people do not become homeless overnight were incorrect.

He said: "The majority of people do become homeless overnight. They become homeless because the landlord evicts them, because they cannot afford to pay the rent or because the landlords say they're selling their house or because the banks have re-possessed the landlord's house because the landlord hasn't paid their mortgage."

Fr McVerry said Ms Gleeson said they want people to engage with the services, but "he said the services are awful and inadequate".

He said if you are drug-free and you get a bed at all, "you will be placed in a room full of active drug users". He said people come to him every day to say they were robbed in the emergency accommodation.

"Much of the emergency accommodation is so awful that people won't go into it," he said.

Fr McVerry said he was equally furious at Mr Varadkar's comments last week and it was "absolutely untrue what the Taoiseach was saying".

He said he was quoting an OECD report from 2015, which was out of date and explicitly states that you cannot compare homelessness between countries because they use different definitions of homelessness.

He said the homeless figures of half of the countries referred to in that report included those staying at the homes of friends or family, because they cannot get alternative accommodation.

Mr McVerry said if we were to do that, our homeless figure would be 70,000-80,000.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said it is unacceptable for anyone to be homeless and the Government had initiatives in place that would see 3,000 people exit homelessness by the end of the year. 

Mr Donohoe said the Taoiseach and Minister of State for Housing Damien English are united in their efforts to deal with homelessness.

Mr Donohoe said he was not fully aware of the points made by Ms Gleeson because he is out of the country, but imagined she was trying to say it was better for everyone to work in an integrated fashion to end homelessness.

However he added, all help and contributions for the homeless are welcome. 

Meanwhile, Brother Kevin Crowley of the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin has also spoken out against Ms Gleeson's comments, saying he was "appalled" by them.

He said a number of people are afraid to go into hostels at night, because they are afraid of being robbed and afraid of those on drugs.

He said his main concern is for the "dignity and respect of each person coming to the centre".

Responding to Fr McVerry’s and Brother Kevin Crowley's criticisms, Ms Gleeson said "we're all on the one side, all trying to do the same thing".

She said her comments were not to intended to denigrate the homeless person.