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Sinn Féin President elect Mary Lou McDonald TD gives her first major speech to party activists


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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said today at the launch of the party's Local Government Manifesto that "Sinn Féin is on track to make massive gains in the Local Government and after next Friday will have an elected representative in every county in Ireland working to deliver on our agenda for change."

Mr Adams said:

"A central part of our manifestos for Local government and for Europe is the desire for change, and the determination and commitment to deliver that change.

"In this manifesto we set out our proposals for the reform of local government and the strengthening of democracy at community level. This is the basis on which our new councillors on local authorities throughout the 26 Counties will work. Their task will be to maximise the benefits of local government for the people, within the limits of the present structures, while all the time striving to change those structures. Fundamental reform of local government will require action at central government level.

"Our councillors will be part of an All-Ireland team of elected representatives who are building a new Ireland. We are working to ensure that the corruption, neglect and mismanagement of the past is replaced by energetic campaigners, fighting for quality public services including empowered local democracy, accessible healthcare, housing as a right, improved transport, affordable childcare and education as the guarantee of equal opportunities for all.

"Sinn Féin councillors have a record in local government which is second to none.

"Sinn Féin is running 204 candidates for 253 seats throughout the 26 counties. 21% of our candidates are women and 23% are under 35 years of age. We have the most dedicated, hardworking, representative team of all the parties and after next Friday we hope to have an elected representative in every one of the 32 counties all of whom will be working hard to ahcieve the party's goal of making local government work for the people it is meant to represent."ENDS

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Sinn Fein North West EU candidate Pearse Doherty has said that the continuing failure of the government to meet its social obligations to support An Post threatens hundreds of Posts Offices and the rural post office network in particular.

Mr Doherty said:

"The failure of the government to recognise and meet its social obligations to financially support An Post threatens the future of the Post Office Network and rural post offices in particular. An Post cannot sustain losses, that since 2001 amount to some 67 million Euro, without there being a long term threat to postal and post office services.

"The loss of large parts of the rural post office network throughout rural the North West will have a devastating impact on rural communities.

"The long-term objective of the government, particularly the right wing agenda of the PDs, is to see the privatisation of An Post. This would signal the end of our postal services as a social service. Privateers would cherry pick the profitable bits of An Post while the rest of the services would whither and die. This would be the death knell for many rural postal and post office services.

"The Flynn report (2000) made it clear that the financial subsidy required to maintain the Post Office Network was significant. Taking into account the fact the 200 post offices are now run on an agency basis, the subsidy required to maintain the remaining post offices is some 24 million Euro.

"The government, despite a clearly stated rural policy, in failing to support the post office network is not living up to its obligations to rural Ireland.

"Following the Flynn report we have not seen the level of financial support it recommended. There has been only a single one-off payment of 12 million Euro to finance the conversion of Post Offices with a full range of services to agency basis with very limited services. 274 Sub Post Offices have been closed or 'converted' and there is a target to increase this to 440 by the end of 2005.

"Unless there is long-term investment, major new business and the development of existing services the future for the post office network is bleak. In many cases the current state of post offices actually inhibits the creation of new business or the expansion of existing services.

"The government needs to make a very clear commitment to both the Postal and Post Office Network. There is social obligation on the government to cost the implications of these commitments and meet them financially. Under EU legislation government subsidy for the protection of its social obligations is allowed and we already see them operating in terms of CIE, RTE, ESB and the regional airports. We need to see the government exercise its ability to meet these social obligations in repost of An Post." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP will tour all five EU constituencies on the island over the next five days. Mr. Adams will be in Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Galway and Belfast canvassing with the party's Local Government and European candidates and calling on the electorate to support the Sinn Féin's agenda for change.

Speaking from Belfast this afternoon Mr. Adams said:

"It is now just a week to the Local Government and EU elections and the citizenship referendum and people will be deciding who they want to represent them and what type of society that they want to create. Sinn Féin wants to create an Ireland of equals and over the next five days I will be travelling throughout Ireland asking people to support our agenda for change and to strengthen our hand in the negotiations which will follow the elections. I will be asking them to come out and vote for the Sinn Fein candidates in their areas, and their respective EU election candidates. I will be asking them to vote No in the government's referendum, which is aimed at creating a completely unequal society for future generations. I will also be asking people to make sure they use their vote and not allow their future to be decided by others."ENDS

Itinerary

Friday

Launch of the party's Local Government manifesto in Dublin

Attending a series of events in Wicklow, Gorey, Enniscorthy and Wexford Town with EU candidate John Dwyer

Saturday

New Ross - canvas with EU candidate John Dwyer and events to commemorate the Battle of New Ross

Waterford - to attend radiotherapy protest with EU candidate David Cullinane

Sunday

Dublin - he will be canvassing in the Finglas area in the morning, attending the Dublin/Westmeath game and canvassing in the city centre with Mary Lou McDonald

Monday

Speaking at two public events in Galway City and canvassing the city centre with EU candidate Pearse Doherty

Tuesday

Canvassing in North Belfast with Bairbre de Brún

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Sinn Féin EU candidate for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald will attend a 'Stop Bush campaign' meeting tomorrow. The press conference will take place at the ATGWU hall in Middle Abbey Street, Dublin at 11.00am (04.06.04). Ms McDonald called for the electorate to "support the endorsement of anti-war candidates in the forthcoming Local and European elections".

Speaking today, Ms McDonald said:

"Sinn Féin is calling upon the electorate to support the endorsement of anti-war candidates in the forthcoming Local and European elections on June 11th. The electorate now have the opportunity to send a clear message to the current government, and those parties who implicitly or explicitly support the war, that the majority of Irish people oppose the continuing occupation of Iraq". ENDS

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Sinn Fein North West EU candidate Pearse Doherty has said that Sinn Fein offer the only choice for interests of the ordinary people to be represented in Europe.

Mr Doherty said:

"The choices for people living in our towns and rural communities throughout the North West in this EU election are becoming increasingly clear. People can either vote for a candidate that represents the failed politics of this government and the right wing agenda of people like the PDs, or instead they can vote for people who will make sure that the North West gets a fair deal and that ordinary people will be listened to.

"There are so many decisions now taken at EU level that impact on people's daily lives yet most of the key decisions are taken in Brussels and Strasbourg hundreds of miles away from the people that they impact on. Sinn Fein will not take what people think for granted. On every important issue we will engage with communities up and down the constituency. There is the commitment that we won't be disappearing off to Europe for five years.

"The EU structural funds that were promised have not materialised. The expected investments through the National Development Plan have not been made and the promise of jobs have not materialised. There has not been balanced development across the East West Divide in Ireland.

"Sinn Féin is the only party that will stand up to the vested interests within the EU and those in this government that have failed to deliver on commitments to the North West in terms of investment and in particular jobs.

"Sinn Fein have a realistic chance of winning the EU seat and standing up for the interests of ordinary people in our towns and rural communities - defending their interests in Europe." ENDS

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Lagan Valley Sinn Féin Representative Cllr. Paul Butler has expressed his shock at the killing of a man outside Oakwood Integrated Primary School this morning.

Cllr. Butler said:

" This morning a man leaving children off at Oakwood primary school in Dunmurray was shot and killed by a number of men. Whatever the motivation this killing was wrong and should not have happened.

" People in the area are deeply shocked at this morning's shooting especially given the fact that it took place in front of young children. I would wish to place on the record my own shock at this killing and extend my sympathy to the dead man's friends and family." ENDS

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Sinn Féin Equality Document 2004 download here.

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Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald was joined by South Down Assembly member Catríona Ruane and Dublin local election candidates Sorcha Nic Chormaic, Aíne Ní Gabhann and Bernie Quinn for the launch of the Sinn Féin Women's Manifesto in Buswell's Hotel in Dublin this morning. Ms McDonald said: "Our manifesto is simple. It demands equality for women in every area of their lives and it states the most obvious means to achieve it."

Ms McDonald said:

"Women do not enjoy equal status in Ireland today. This is reflected, not just in politics, but in the workplace, in the home and in every other area of a woman's life. According to the ESRI, "One in every four women in Ireland raising children or managing households on their own will experience poverty despite our economic boom." This society needs a complete sea-change, if women are ever to enjoy the rights that they are fully entitled to.

"One of the more visible areas of inequality is the political arena. Women are still not fully represented in either national politics or in local government. Women make up 51% of our population, but only 13% of TDs are women. 10 counties have no women TDs and only 15% of elected Councillors are women.

"Two of our five candidates for the EU elections are women and 21% of our local government candidates are women. While this represents an improvement, we are committed to continuing to work in this area until we achieve full gender parity.

"Sinn Féin believes that we cannot have a just and free society without equality for women. Our manifesto is simple. It demands equality for women in every area of their lives and it states the most obvious means to achieve it. For example, we're calling for:

  • State and public bodies to implement 60/40 gender quotas on boards of management and in the policy making arena, and the appointment of at least 40% women to the next EU Commission
  • An increase in the minimum wage and the elimination of the gender pay gap
  • paid parental leave
  • Extended maternity benefit from 18 weeks to 26 weeks
  • The abolition of the means test for full time carers
  • A central unit to co-ordinate Government strategy, policy and funding for childcare and reversal of the decision to withdraw the childcare allowance from single parents on the Return to Education programme
  • Adequate funding to local authorities for implementing targets for the elimination of housing waiting lists
  • A free and prompt national breast screening programme for all women over 40 and free and regular cervical screening for all teenage girls and women
  • Increased secure funding for local crisis and support services for women experiencing violence, and the enlargement of the network of refuges
  • old age pensioners‚ social insurance contributions to be linked to inflation
  • The introduction of a rights-based Disability Bill
  • The repeal of the Housing Miscellaneous Provisions Act that criminalises Traveller women
  • The introduction of legislation that allows for discrimination against non-national women or that violates our international obligation to protect refugee women, to be opposed.

"Until we have implemented all of these demands, women will remain the lesser partner in this society. Building an Ireland of Equals in one of Sinn Féin‚s core objectives, and as part of that we will continue to campaign for absolute equality for women." ENDS

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Speaking during a Women Into Politics sponsored EU debate entitled 'Why Europe matters To Women' Sinn Féin EU candidate Bairbre de Brún outlined the partys 'broad ranging and radical equality agenda'. The detail of that agenda is contained in the partys Equality manifesto which was launched this morning.

Ms de Brún said:

"Sinn Féin wants to build an Ireland of equals in a Europe of equals. This is not an empty phrase but a real aspiration, which we believe can be achieved.

"The EU provides us all with an opportunity to further and deepen the equality agenda at home, throughout Europe and indeed globally.

"This morning Sinn Féin launched our equality manifesto, and central to that is a series of proposals for addressing inequality across the EU. However it is important to remember that women are not only interested in women's issues strictly defined.

"Sinn Féin wants to see real and meaningful equality proofing put in place across all areas of EU policy formulation and decision taking. Whether it be programmes for tackling the crisis in our farming and maritime communities; the need for greater support for the community and voluntary sector; the need for greater access to training and employment to name but a few key issues, the gender impact of these issues needs to be addressed in a way that is fully consistent with the principles of equality of access and of outcome.

"Among the many policy commitments we have made in our EU manifesto are:

  • the introduction of a mechanism for equality-proofing all EU law and policy
  • the levelling-up of equality rights protections throughout the EU
  • full incorporation of the three existing EU Equality Directives into domestic law (the Employment Equality Directive, the Gender Equal Treatment Directive and the Racial Equality Directive), including their application to non-nationals
  • the introduction of more comprehensive EU anti-discrimination legislation with similar scope to the Racial Equality Directive, including:
  • new comprehensive Gender, Disability, & Lesbian & gay Equality Directives

Sinn Féin wants to play our part, working with others, to develop a comprehensive equality and human rights agenda throughout the European Union' ENDS

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Sinn Féin Representative for East Belfast Joe O'Donnell has said that the failure of the PSNI to identify which one of its members deliberately drove at residents in the Short Strand area to allow a prosecution to be mounted showed clearly that 'the canteen culture of secrecy and cover-up was alive and well'.

Cllr. O'Donnell said;

" The revelation that the PSNI have refused to identify which one of its members was involved in endangering the lives of residents living in the Short Strand by driving at them at high speed will come as no surprise to those of us who experienced their policing of this area during the disturbances two summers ago.

" This is a further demonstration that the canteen culture of concealment and cover-up is alive and well within the ranks of the PSNI. This revelation raises many questions for those who continue to provide support and political cover for this force and its Chief Hugh Orde The SDLP in particular can no longer continue to run away from these issues.

" They tell us that accountability and transparency are now paramount. Yet time and again we see instances where the PSNI deliberately and consciously engages in cover up. We have seen it with collusion and with the murders of Roaseanne Mallon and Pearse Jordan and now we see it with this case in the Short Strand.

" The SDLP and others should stop living in denial and should recognise what the majority of nationalists in the six counties believe, that what passes for policing here is not an acceptable or accountable policing service. Instead of providing support for a Hugh Orde charm offensive they should join with the rest of us in demanding the fundamental policing changes which are required." ENDS

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Commenting on the discovery of the body of a woman in a car on the Antrim Road this morning Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast Kathy Stanton said that the community in the area was 'shocked and stunned'.

Ms Stanton said:

" Obviously details at this stage are unclear, but what we have heard is that the body of a woman was discovered is the boot of a car on the Antrim Road last night. What I can say is that the community in this area is shocked and stunned by the events of last night.

" I would wish to extend my sympathies to the dead woman's family and friends at what is without doubt a tragic and difficult time." ENDS

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams will be available to speak to the media at 12.30pm today at the party offices at Sevastopol Street.

Mr Adams will deal with efforts to ensure that interface areas remain peaceful this summer.

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Sinn Féin Assembly group leader Conor Murphy will this morning lodge papers in the High Court challenging the British Government decision to discriminate against Sinn Féin in the wake of the flawed IMC Report.

Mr Murphy will be available to speak to the media at 11am outside the High Court in Belfast.

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Dúirt Piaras Ó Dochartaigh inniu go raibh sé "dochreidte" nach raibh an Rialtas ag déanamh a dhícheall chun bheith cinnte go mbeadh stádas oifigiúil oibre ár dteanga féin san Aontas Eorpach, go mór mór roimh deireadh Uachtaránacht Éireannach an Aontais Eorpaigh. Dúirt Ó Dochartaigh:

"Tá a fhios agam gur cuirtear ceist ar an Taoiseach inné faoi dul chun cinn an Rialtais maidir le stádas na Gaeilge tar éis rúin a bhí rithe níos luaithe sa bhliain sa Dáil agus sa Seanad. Ach, fiú go bhfuil tacaíocht ó gach coirnéal sa tír don stádas seo, agus toradh na rúin sin, tá an Taoiseach fós ag iarraidh éalú ón ábhar arís.

"Tá díomá agus fearg orm go bhfuil sé agus an Rialtas ag iarraidh daonlathas muintir na tíre seo a dhiúltú. Tá sé dochreidte go ndeireann an Taoiseach nach raibh sé ina chainteanna le cinnirí tíortha eile an AE ach ag lorg stádas na Gaeilge faoi láthair san Aontas a fheabhsú. Ní raibh sé ag lorg stádas oifigiúil oibre iomlán toisc go mbeadh "deacrachtaí praiticiúila" leis. Cad iad na deachrachtaí sin?

"Dúirt anTaoiseach freisin go mbeadh fadhbanna do seirbhísí aistriú san AE agus go gcaithfí tacaíocht iomlán a fháil ó na ballstáit eile. Ní fíor an freagra sin, má tá fadhb ag ballstáit eile, is féidir leo cur i gcoinne an stádas ach níl aon fáth ann go mbeadh fadhb acu mar tháinig deich stáit nua istigh ar an 1ú Bealtaine leis a gcuid dteangacha agus ni raibh focal ó aon tír - Éireann san áireamh, ag gearán faoi seo.

"Cad is fiú an Coiste a bunaíodh chun an cest a chiaradh nuair nach bhfuil an Taoiseach sásta fanacht ar a thuairisc sin fiú. Tá níos lú ná mí fágtha ag an Taoiseach i ról Uachtarán an Aontais Eorpaigh. Ba chóir go mbeidh náire air go deo má theipfidh air aitheantas a theanga oifigiúil a bhaint amach i rith na míosa sin." DEIREADH

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has welcomed this evenings statement from DUP MPs Nigel Dodds and Peter Robinson on the need to work to achieve a peaceful summer. The Sinn Féin leader said:

"I welcome the DUP support for efforts to ensure a peaceful summer and agree that everyone in positions of influence should do all in their powers to bring this about. It is important that this sentiment is acted upon at all levels of our community and I would urge community leaders and activists, particularly at interface areas, to engage with their counter-parts across the political divide.

" A peaceful summer would bring enormous relief for families and communities who have had to suffer the effects of interface conflict in the past. A peaceful summer would also make a significant contribution to rebuilding confidence inthe political process.

" Two of our MLAs, Gerry Kelly and Alex Maskey, are currently engaged in intensive contacts with civic society, the community and voluntary sector, and political opinion across all sections of society with the objective of ensuring a peaceful summer. Today's statement is a positive and welcome development." ENDS

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Spokesperson for Rural Affairs, Martin Ferris TD, while commending Minister Eamon Ó Cuiv for his commitment to rural communities, pointed at the failure of the Government to fulfil its commitments in the White Paper on Rural Development, saying that Ó Cuiv's "good intentions" were "being nullified by the overall thrust of Government policies."

Speaking at the final stage of Sinn Féin's Private Members' motion on Rural Development, Deputy Ferris said:

"The Minister is correct in saying that trying to halt the decline in rural communities is one which no other European, or indeed any other modern developed state, has succeeded in cracking but that he is prepared to attempt this in an Irish context. That is certainly a laudable aim and he has attempted to do so by establishing a number of initiatives as the Minister in a separate Department. I believe that Minister Ó Cuiv is passionately devoted to the future of rural communities. What concerns me, however, is that his good intentions and the excellent work being carried out under his Department are being nullified by the overall thrust of Government policies.

"It is my belief that the socially progressive objectives of the Minister and many others within his own party are having to take second place to the dominant ideology within the Government which is driven by what one might describe as a right-wing fiscal agenda. It is no coincidence that this is taking place at a time when the single most right-wing party in this state - the Progressive Democrats - is part of the Governing coalition. There are without doubt fundamental differences between the world view of many within Fianna Fáil and the PDs. I cannot imagine that Minister Ó Cuiv shares his colleague's views or the PD's extreme attitude towards the role of the state. Individual initiative is crucial but private enterprise itself will never be sufficient to solve the problems facing rural communities. The Government expresses support for the Western Development Commission but in practice has ignored many of the recommendations which have been made by the Commission. In its blueprint for Organic Agri Food Production in the West, the WDC pointed to the potential for organic production allied to higher value added processing for the export market but this has not been followed by the Government. In fact it has cut the level of state support, training and support for the organic sector.

"Despite commitments made in the National Spatial Strategy, the so-called 'hub centres' have not proved sufficient to attract new foreign companies. And most of them have actually experienced increased unemployment since 2002. In Tralee, which is served by a technology centre and an Institute of Technology, there have been no new inward investments since the launch of the spatial strategy, and it would appear very little effort on the part of the state to interest foreign companies in the area. The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has refused to meet with Tralee Councillors to discuss ways of tackling the jobs crisis.

"An area that is crucial to economic development is up-to-date communications technology. This is especially important in places outside of the main urban centres where e-commerce can potentially outweigh other structural disadvantages. The White Paper referred to the prospect that the provision of broadband telecommunications might facilitate an expansion of this country's development in this sector, with the view that rural areas would benefit from this. However, a report from February this year concludes that this has not been successful and states that " - Ireland has a disappointingly under-developed broadband market. Low penetration is due to high wholesale costs, lack of co

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP will be in Dublin tomorrow, Friday 4th June at 10.30am to launch the party's manifesto for the Local Government election campaign.

Also attending the press conference in Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street in Dublin will be Meath Councillor Joe Reilly, Dublin South East representative Daithí Doolan, Arthur Morgan TD and Dublin DOE Maria Doherty.

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Sinn Féin candidate for South East Daithí Doolan speaking while canvassing on Pearse Street this evening said that today's comments by Minister Martin Cullen have exposed the reality that this Government is diametrically opposed to equality in Irish society. Mr. Doolan said:

„Recent comments by the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell and his side-kick Willie O‚Dea and today‚s rant by the Minister for the Environment, Martin Cullen, have exposed the reality that this Government is diametrically opposed to equality in Irish society and that the Environment Minister does not know what he is talking about.

"If Minister Cullen had read the Sinn Féinn manifesto he would see that far from calling for withdrawl from the euro, Sinn Fein supports the adoption of the euro in the Six Counties as part of the creation of an all-Ireland economy.

"In relation to the impact of low tax and free trade policies, the European Anti Poverty Network has said that the European Social Model is „under attack with a deepening divide between public and private services in areas like health, education and housing. This has led to growing levels of poverty and inequality.‰ Minister Cullen also ignores the rising numbers of working poor in Ireland. This Government believes that anyone living in poverty in Ireland is just lazy and this is completely untrue. 20% of households living in poverty are headed by people who are working, and the vast majority of other such households are pensioners, the disabled, or otherwise out of the workforce. These people need assistance, not Government press releases telling them to get a job.

"Has Minister Cullen even read the Sinn Féin Manifesto? Does he have the slightest understanding of basic economic and European issues? Is he aware of what is going on in Ireland or is he too busy crippling working families with unfair double taxes like the bin charges while backing away from taking on the manufacturers who produce packaging? Is he too busy kow-towing to his developer friends to see increasing levels of homelessness in Dublin?

If Minister Cullen wants a real debate might I suggest he reads policy documents before talking any more nonsense."ENDS

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Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Arthur Morgan T.D. today questioned the Minister of State with responsibility for housing, Noel Ahern T.D. regarding what measures are being taken to redress the predicament whereby single people, in particular single men, who make up 32% of the 48,000 on housing waiting lists, find it virtually impossible to secure social housing.

Deputy Morgan said:

"During my questioning of the Minister of State Noel Ahern T.D. today, he admitted that only 10% of social housing provided by local authorities is allocated to single people without dependents despite the fact that single people now make up 32% of those on local authority housing waiting lists. This amounts to discrimination against single people in the allocation of local authority housing. The Government needs to put in place measures to ensure that single people without dependents receive an equitable outcome in relation to the allocation of social housing.

"I pointed out to the Minister that the overall lack of social housing and particularly the lack of social housing being constructed to meet the needs of single people has been highlighted by groups working with the homeless as one of the primary hurdles in accommodating homeless people and enabling them to make to transition from emergency to permanent accommodation.

"The Minister must intervene to put an end to this discrimination against single people trying to access social housing. The Social Housing guidelines need to be revised to include a specific reference to the necessity for local authorities to ensure that the housing needs of single people are met and to ensure that the points system being used by local authorities do not discriminate against single people without dependents, making it impossible for them to secure social housing." ENDS

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