The homeless charity Depaul has taken over the running of two hostels that provide accommodation for more than 120 men in Cork.

It marks the completion of a handover of the running of seven hostels across the country by the Society of St Vincent de Paul to Depaul.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin attended a function at one of the hostels in Ballyphehane in Cork this afternoon to mark the handover.

In September 2020, the Society of St Vincent de Paul announced its intention to transfer the management of its homeless services to other charities with specialist expertise in the area.

Depaul was established in the Republic in 2002 and in Northern Ireland in 2005. It provides more than 600 bed spaces per night across 30 accommodation centres located throughout Ireland. The charity supported more than 3,500 people last year.

The handover began with a hostel in Co Carlow in September.

Depaul then took over the running of hostels in Waterford, Wexford, two hostels in Cork, in Ballyphehane and the city centre, and two hostels in Longford.

"The handover is now fully complete," said Depaul CEO David Carroll.

"There is a huge amount of work that needs to go into the planning of this, around staff and the facilities themselves and around the health and well-being of the service users."

Depaul and the Society of St Vincent de Paul are two separate organisations.

Depaul is committed to the prevention and eradication of homelessness. It supports people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul fights poverty and was established in 1844. It is the largest voluntary charity in the country, with 11,000 members, 4,500 volunteers and 750 staff.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul was one of the founding partners of Depaul in this country, but the two organisations operate separately.

On Friday, the Department of Housing issued figures for November which showed that the number of people living in emergency accommodation in the State exceeded 9,000 for the first time in more than 18 months.

David Carroll expressed disappointment with those figures, but said he regarded them as a blip, rather than the beginning of a trend of growth in homeless numbers again.

"We are disappointed, but we feel that much of the learning that could be taken from this Covid period could be used to get us back on track again," he told RTÉ News.

"The Government's commitment to end homelessness by 2030 is hugely important. We would hope that these figures are a blip at the moment, because we feel housing supply is the key to ending homelessness," he said.

"We want to see a ramping up of house building."

Speaking at this afternoon's function, Taoiseach Micheál Martin praised the work of the staff and volunteers at the hostels since they opened.

"This transfer demonstrates the responsibility, foresight and vision of two organisations coming together to have a positive impact on people facing homelessness," Mr Martin said.

"The pathway to eradicating homelessness is bound up with the constructive contributions of organisations like Depaul and SVP, working together in a progressive and transformational manner to meet the ever-changing needs of people facing homelessness."

SVP National President Rose McGowan said: "The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is proud of the services we have provided at Deerpark since it opened 19 years ago.

"We know that Depaul will continue what we started and we wish them, the service team and service users the very best of luck in this next chapter."