Six children, aged from one to 11, and their mother had to sleep in a Dublin garda station last night after they could not find emergency accommodation.

Gardaí at Tallaght say the family presented themselves at the station as they had nowhere else to go.

Gardaí contacted the various emergency shelter phone lines, as well as a number of local hotels, but no accommodation could be found.

The family was cared for at the station and left this morning.

The woman - Margaret Cash - posted several images of her children sleeping on chairs at the station on social media. The baby slept in a buggy.

Ms Cash has said there are no words to describe what she and her family went through last night.

She said she did not sleep, was minding her children all night, and that is why she decided to post the images on Facebook.

Ms Cash said she was referred to the garda station after alternative accommodation was not secured.

She said a place was offered to her late last night but it was unsuitable because it was in Co Meath and had room for just five children.

Ms Cash said she has secured accommodation until at least Monday through the Inner City Helping Homeless charity.

She added that she and her family have been homeless for a year and have spent three nights in garda stations in that time.

She said she hopes the Government will open its eyes to the problem.

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Anthony Flynn from Inner City Helping Homeless said a number of families were referred to garda stations last night as other suitable accommodation could not be sourced.

He described the situation as a disgrace.

In a statement, Dublin Regional Homeless Executive said it is aware of the "difficult circumstances that families experiencing homelessness have to face".

It said an "unprecedented" number of families presented out of hours seeking emergency accommodation last night and that the Family Homeless Action Team engaged with ten families who could not find accommodation themselves.

The DRHE said accommodation was found for five of the families, one family refused the offer of accommodation and two were "linked back in with the region (outside of Dublin) and two did not seek further assistance".

The head of the executive, Eileen Gleeson, said there is no need for a family requiring emergency accommodation to sleep in a garda station.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Ms Gleeson said the DRHE has contingency beds that meet standards for families or individuals in crisis. 

Focus Ireland said it was "totally wrong and unacceptable" that the family had to sleep in a garda station.

It said services are "stretched to breaking point as there is a constant rise in the numbers becoming homeless every month".

It added that while last night was "exceptional", it was "part of an escalating crisis for families that it has been warning the Government about for over two years".