The General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has urged the Taoiseach to tackle the shame and hurt felt by children experiencing homelessness.

Speaking at the ICTU biennial conference in Dublin, Patricia King cited her own experience of growing up as one of five children raised in a three room house - not a three bedroom house - with a tap in the yard.

She said it had resonated with her when she heard the Ombudsman for Children recently describing the damage done to homeless children living in hubs and hotel rooms.

She recalled the shame of going to the local national school with people from families with high, middle and lower incomes - and being actively discouraged from having people back to the house.

She said that shame did a lot of damage, and caused a lot of hurt.

She told Leo Varadkar that his Government's policy on housing had failed, stressing that congress believes the delivery of social and affordable housing should be delivered through local authorities.

But she urged him to do something to get it right, and not to let children in homelessness "pay a dreadful price".

Responding the Taoiseach's speech, Ms King also accused the Government of failing unions through inadequate provision for collective bargaining and facilitating bogus self-employment.

She said unions were in the same position today in 2019 as Jim Larkin had been on a tram on O'Connell Street in Dublin in 1913 and that the principle seemed to be that unions could only have collective bargaining if the employer engaged in the worst of bare-knuckle capitalism wanted to give it.

She also urged the Government to campaign for a sustainable power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, along with the Bill of Rights endorsed in the Good Friday Agreement, the right to choose on reproductive rights, and the right to marriage equality.

She said people in Northern Ireland no longer want those serious civil rights to be used as political leverage and therefore never be achieved.