The number of people in emergency accommodation increased for a third month in a row in September and saw a further increase in the number of children without a home.

The latest figures from the Department of Housing show that 10,397 people accessed emergency accommodation during the week beginning 23 September, which is an increase of 59 on the August numbers.

The number of children accessing emergency accommodation rose by 25 to 3,873.

The number of families also increased from 1,726 in August to 1,756 in September.

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy has defended the Rebuilding Ireland plan.

He said the Government had prevented more people than ever before from entering emergency accommodation this year.

Speaking on RTE's News at One, Mr Murphy said that more than 700 families have left emergency accommodation into homes this year.

He described the increase in the number of people accessing emergency accommodation in September as a "huge challenge" and said the situation would continue to be a challenge until the lack of supply had been corrected.

"It means we need to build more houses, which is what we're doing. But as we build those houses, we have to make sure the best supports are put in place for those in emergency accommodation, and we are improving those supports," he said.

Mr Murphy said that while there are not enough people being moved out of emergency accommodation, the gap in terms of housing needs was not widening, because the number of people on social housing wait lists had fallen.

He said the increase in family homelessness "would be a lot worse if the Government hadn't put together a comprehensive plan to rebuild our housing sector, which was destroyed".

Sinn Féin's spokesperson on housing Eoin Ó Broin said Minister Murphy's failure to deal with the crisis was normalising homelessness.

He added that the minister's time "would be better spent addressing his own policy failures rather than going on the News at One to lash out at opposition politicians".

Labour's spokesperson on housing Jan O'Sullivan said the figures reveal a worrying and consistent trend and "quite simply, these figures are a sign that the Government's housing strategy is continuing to fail".

In a statement, she said: "On a night like this when many children are looking forward to trick or treating with their friends, it is unacceptable that there are also 3,873 children with no home of their own."

Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly said the charity was disheartened and dismayed at "the clear lack of progress in tacking the housing and homeless crisis".

Housing charity Threshold has appealed for urgent donations, saying its frontline services are under huge pressure.

CEO John-Mark McCafferty said: "We are dealing with families and individuals around the country every day who are struggling to keep their tenancies.

"But we urgently need more money to fund homelessness prevention nationwide and we are appealing to the public to support us to prevent this crisis from worsening in the coming months."