Three charities have come together to launch a national campaign asking the public to donate their Irish Water refund to tackle the homeless crisis.

"The Refund Project" has been set up on behalf of Simon Community, Peter McVerry Trust and Focus Ireland.

The Irish Water repayment scheme will see €173m repaid to account holders in the coming weeks and the three charities are hoping some of this money will be donated.

A special oversight group has been set up which will be chaired by the former head of the Workplace Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey.

Mr Mulvey said: "When we first floated this as a concept earlier this month we got a really positive public response."

He said almost one million people are in line for a refund and he hopes that some of these account holders will give that money to charity.

The three charities say they are aware that not everybody will be in a position to donate the money but believe many people will have the means.

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The Refund Project said there are almost 8,500 people homeless and more than 3,000 of these are children.

Annmarie Brennan from the Dublin Simon Community said the charities are hopeful the Refund Project would receive at least €50m from Irish Water account holders who have received refunds. 

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, she said: If "34% of people weren't expecting a refund, and if they were in a position to donate this to the Refund Project, that would be €50 million that can be put to good use."

A number of national newspapers and broadcasters are offering free advertising space to

Anyone wanting to donate can do so online at