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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to immediately issue twelve reports that are currently sitting in his department unpublished. The information was provided in response to a parliamentary question submitted earlier this month.

Deputy Ó Broin said: 

“The PQ response indicates that the Department of Housing is currently withholding the publication of twelve reports commissioned between 2011 and 2017.

“A number of these reports are quite significant and include a review of the shared ownership scheme which was commissioned in 2013 by former Labour Minister Jan O’ Sullivan. The list of reports also includes the business case review of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and the report comparing construction costs across Europe. 

“The long awaited vacant homes strategy is also on the list. This strategy was first promised under Coveney and we are still waiting for it. 

“No timeline for the publication of these reports was provided in the response issued by the Department. There is no point in the Department commissioning these reports if they have no interest in sharing the findings.

“I have submitted an FOI request requesting access to these reports. However, in the meantime, I am calling on Minister Murphy to publish these reports immediately.” 

Note: Please see PQ response attached

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Sinn Féin TD and Justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said that Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald’s attempt to straighten her story has left her tied in knots.

The Cork South-Central TD said:

“The Minister last night attempted to brazen out the many questions arising from revelations last night on RTÉ about her knowledge of the attempt to undermine Sergeant Maurice McCabe, and provide non-answers to many Deputies.

“However, there are still enormous questions and concerns hanging over this episode.

 “In particular, the transcript which was released from the email, and it is not the full email I note, states quite clearly that the Gardaí had raised an allegation made against Sgt McCabe, which was one of the cases examined by the Independent Review Mechanism.

“This is an allegation which was, as stated in the text, had been directed as a non-prosecution.

“This is the same complaint, referred to in the Dáil on February 14th, which was passed to the Taoiseach by Micheál Martin, and forwarded to the then Minister for Justice, forwarded again for action by the Independent Review Mechanism, the Tánaiste has confirmed this.

“This is reported to have happened in May 2014, around the time the Tánaiste came to hold the role of Minister for Justice. It seems unlikely that she would not have been briefed on such a sensitive and high profile political matter.

“So, the Tánaiste expects us to believe, that when a reference to this same case is contained in an email, 12 months later in connection to the strategy being undertaken by An Garda Síochána at the Commission, saw no significance in it, took no action, and appeared to believe that the email was of such little significance that she has since forgotten it? That is impossible to credit.

“The Minister’s knowledge was, it is clear, that the Gardaí were adopting a strategy, of using an allegation which had not been prosecuted to undermine Sgt McCabe.

“This is at the same time that she states that she ‘at all times sought to protect and support whistleblowers’.

“She has attempted to obscure this issue behind the Commission of investigation – but there was no legal impediment to her withholding her confidence in the Garda Commissioner using this strategy to undermine Sgt McCabe.

“All this time, the Minister for Justice continued to state her full confidence in the Garda Commissioner who was responsible for this attempt to grievously undermine Sgt McCabe.

“This has totally undermined all the statements she has made heretofore, and raises serious questions in relation to her continued position as Tánaiste.” 

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that a lack of HSE oversight into work practices in hospitals is the main reason behind why a small number of consultants are ignoring their public hospital waiting list responsibilities and spending a disproportionate amount of their publically contracted time solely dealing with their private lists.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Last night’s RTÉ Primetime Show “Public V Private: The Battle for Care” highlighted many deficiencies and issues regarding private practice in our public hospitals throughout the state.

“Most shocking of all was how a small number of consultants are ignoring their public hospital waiting list responsibilities and spending a disproportionate amount of their publically contracted time solely dealing with their private lists. That a consultant who is publically contracted to do 39 hours public work is getting away with just doing 13 hours is completely disgraceful.

“In 2014, the HSE stopped compiling compliance with private practice limits within public hospitals, the result being that a number of consultants have since been ignoring these limits and spending a disproportionate amount of their publically contracted time solely dealing with their private lists in public hospitals.

“This is completely unacceptable and the responsibility for this rests in three places, with the consultants involved, the HSE, and finally with the hospitals. 

“The HSE, as I have said, have failed in their duty to oversee compliance, the hospitals allow, and in some ways encourage, the consultants to operate in this way because they are forced to raise their own funds from private practice in public hospitals to meet spending targets (stretch income targets), and finally for some of these consultants it is more lucrative to operate in this way.

“However, it is the public at large who are suffering because of this. Every time private practice limits are broken, it is patients on the public hospital waiting lists who suffer and these lists continue to grow longer. 

“From what was uncovered, it appears that the consultants who are engaged in this practice are in a minority and do a disservice to the great work consultants do daily, most of whom work huge hours to cover gaps because of the recruitment and retention crisis. 

“The evidence seen last night and the general available evidence of how private practice in public hospitals impinges on public waiting lists is further evidence of why we must disentangle the private and the public healthcare systems and remove all private practice from public hospitals. 

“The Minister for Health Simon Harris and the HSE must address this situation as a matter of extreme urgency and begin with the elimination of stretch income targets and other perverse incentives.” 

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Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile has written to the Leader of the Seanad following an exchange in the chamber this evening where the Leader Senator Jerry Buttimer would not commit to holding a debate on the issue of Brexit.

Speaking this evening, Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said;

“Today in the Seanad I called for an urgent debate on Brexit.

“Given the severity of the political period we find ourselves in, it is my firm view that the Seanad and individual Seanadóirí across the political spectrum have and must continue to make an active and worthwhile contribution on this issue of truly national importance.

“I am disappointed that the Leader of the Seanad Jerry Buttimer would not commit to holding a debate on this matter or even my lesser request to have the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Taoiseach update Senadóirí on the current state of play.

“I have tonight written to the Senator Buttimer urging him to reconsider.

“While parties and independents in the Seanad have some differences of opinion on aspects of this issue, we have all been united in wanting to see the best possible outcome delivered for all of Ireland.

“A short while ago, following weeks of extensive engagements, the Seanad Special Select Committee on Brexit published comprehensive findings after weeks of hearings on Brexit.

“This was good work, warmly received and supported by stakeholders across the political, economic, social, agricultural and legal spectrums. Sadly however, that report lies dormant. That is simply not good enough.

“The Seanad is a parliamentary institution, it is a debating chamber, given the period we are now in in relation to the negotiations, is a debate on Brexit really too much to ask of this Government?”

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Newry & Armagh MP Mickey Brady has observed PIP assessment procedures which he says reflects a Tory culture of ‘shame and punishment’ towards welfare recipients.

Micky Brady MP said:

“Fundamental flaws and a culture of demeaning claimants is appearing at the heart of the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) system.

“Through my work in recent weeks I have observed serious procedural problems that reflect a wider culture of shame and punishment with which the Tories treat welfare recipients.

“The forms involved are extremely and deliberately complex. In cases I have observed, some assessments are degrading and ridiculous in their nature.

“The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) of over 80 charities and organisations surveyed over 1700 PIP claimants and found that almost 90% of respondents described their assessment as ‘stressful’. 

 “Over 75% of respondents agreed that the stress and anxiety associated with their PIP assessment had made their condition worse.

“This is unacceptable, and Sinn Féin will be seeking a meeting with Capita in the time ahead to demand immediate changes to how PIP recipients are treated.”

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This afternoon on RTÉ Radio 1, the Tánaiste cited an email which she was made aware of last Thursday in relation to what has been described as a 'row' in the O’Higgins Commission, in relation to issues relating to Garda McCabe.

Speaking this evening, Deputy Ó Laoghaire said;

“The Tánaiste must publish this email immediately. It is clearly in the public interest to lay these questions to rest.

“She cannot hide behind the Charleton Tribunal on this as she has herself put parts of this email on to the public record.

"There is a clear contradiction between what was reported in 2016, in relation to the direction given to Garda Legal team in the O'Higgins Commission to undermine Garda McCabe, and what the Tánaiste has put on the record today, which makes reference to potential Criminal Charges.

"There is an enormous discrepancy here, one which raises even further questions. The only way to answer these questions is from publication of this email, and full disclosure."

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Elisha McCallion MP has called for more support for people struggling with addiction and substance abuse problems, following a meeting alongside Chris Hazzard MP with Addiction NI representatives in Westminster on Tuesday.

McCallion said:

“Addiction and substance abuse are issues we still struggle with as a society and continue to afflict too many citizens. 

“In recent times there has been a significant increase in drug-related deaths. As we approach what can be a difficult time of year for many, we must be vigilant and compassionate it caring for vulnerable citizens.

“Today was an important opportunity to explore the many different problems linked to addiction, including homelessness and mental health, and I look forward to continuing with this engagement in the future.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has called for a political focus to be placed on the actions of Ulster Bank’s Global Restructuring Group (GRG). In the Dáil today he asked An Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance to raise the issue with Ulster Bank directly.

Deputy Doherty said:

“Now is the time for a political focus to be but onto the actions of Ulster Bank and its GRG wing. GRG has been referred to as 'Death Row for SMEs'. There is a suspicion that it was used by RBS and Ulster Bank to liquidate viable companies rather than to manage them through a difficult period.

"In Britain, the Financial Conduct Authority is considering further action against RBS bank because of the actions of its Global Restructuring Group.

"Its report found instances of “inappropriate treatment” towards 92% of the viable businesses that were part of the review.

"In this State the GRG operated as part of Ulster Bank and the evidence points to a similar tale of small businesses being crushed with as few as 6 businesses of the 2,141 businesses entering the system coming out alive.

"I am aware the Central Bank is discussing this with Ulster Bank but as we learned from the Tracker scandal political pressure is required. I hope the Minister responds positively to my call for a political focus.”

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Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said “Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has serious questions to answer regarding the extent of her knowledge regarding the former Garda Commissioner’s legal strategy to undermine the credibility of whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe”.

Teachta Doherty continued;

“We now know that the Tánaiste was made of aware, through an email, of the strategy in May 2015.

“She was not made aware of just generalities, which had been previously claimed. She was made aware of specifics, particularly that the Commissioner’s legal counsel was going down the avenue of raising serious criminal complaints against Sgt McCabe.

“Maurice McCabe has also disputed that this was ever raised at the Commission.

“This was clearly being done to attack the credibility and motivations of a brave and honourable man and it being done by the leadership of the state’s police force.

“The Taoiseach is now attempting to muddy the waters by addressing an accusation that has not been made – that the Tánaiste had played a part in concocting the shameful strategy. Nobody is claiming that.

“What is clear is that the Tánaiste was made aware of the malicious nature of the strategy a full year before it entered the public domain and she failed to act. In fact, during this time, she continued to express full confidence in former Commissioner O’Sullivan.

“It also clearly in the public interest that contents of the email to the Tánaiste be published.”

Mr Doherty added;

“This is not a minor inconvenience to be batted away by the Taoiseach. It is a political crisis that goes to the very heart of the integrity of this government. The answers she gives must dispel any questions as to the appropriateness of her behaviour and the accuracy of her statements.

“If this does not happen, then serious questions arise as to whether the Tánaiste can credibly remain in office.” 

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to clarify his position and the position of the Government regarding the centralisation of trauma units in order to allay any fears which people may have.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“People are nervous and concerned regarding the news broken by Susan Mitchell in The Sunday Business Post that a report is to go before Cabinet before the end of 2017 calling for the centralisation of trauma care.

“This concern is born out of the fact that people are essentially in the dark. Many people, including politicians, are unaware of the implications of this report for the health service on a macro level and on a micro level.

“The Minister for Health needs to clarify this situation immediately so politicians and the public alike can scrutinise it and assess it overall benefits and any short fallings.

“It would also be in the Minister’s interest to assess if it is wise to talk about or put in place plans for downgrading trauma care at our acute hospitals while we have a crisis of capacity and without any capital plans to address this fact.

“I do not dispute the claims by the Department of Health that they want to ensure that patients get ‘the right care in the right place at the right time’.

“However, we should be immediately looking at implementing the Sláintecare report on the future of healthcare and rolling out the agreed aspects of that instead of downgrading trauma units at local hospitals.

“I will be writing to the Minister asking him to clarify his position and the position of the Government regarding centralisation of trauma units in order to allay any fears which people may have and to also outline when he will be implementing the Sláintecare report.” 

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Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Pat Sheehan has expressed deep concern following allegations of ill-treatment of patients at Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Antrim.

The West Belfast MLA was speaking after four staff members were suspended from Muckamore while police investigate the claims.

“We are deeply concerned about the allegations of ill-treatment of patients within Muckamore Abbey,” he commented.

“If any ill treatment of vulnerable patients is found to have taken place, that cannot be tolerated.

“The safety and welfare of patients must be central to health provision and so it is important that these allegations are thoroughly investigated.”

ENDS/CRIOCH

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The success of all-Ireland co-operation in improving treatment for children needing heart surgery can be expanded into other areas of health and public services, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Pat Sheehan has said.

The West Belfast MLA was speaking after an international conference in Belfast heard that the all-island Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) Network is delivering better outcomes for children across Ireland.

“We welcome the news that increased cross border cooperation in healthcare is delivering better health outcomes not only for the service user but their families and carers,” he commented.

“I am not surprised that a logically approach to healthcare provision on the island of Ireland is producing better health outcomes and the demand for these services are rising.”

“We have been arguing for years that two health systems on the island of Ireland, doesn’t make sense. There are so many possibilities for further development for example, a Perinatal mental health service, covering the island of Ireland would provide a much needed and sustainable service.

“There is a great capacity in border areas to cooperate together but cooperation in health can benefit all communities. This is more important than ever, given the threat posed by Brexit.

 “The all-island Congenital Heart Disease Network are leading the way but there are other services we could be looking at especially as we set about a process for much needed transformation under Michelle O’Neill’s Delivering Together plan.”

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The credibility of Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald’s position in office will be seriously compromised if she cannot give a credible account of what she knew about the legal strategy to undermine Garda Whistle-blower Maurice McCabe, according to Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD.

Speaking today Teachta Ó Laoghaire said;

“The clarification provided by the Department of Justice to RTÉ news yesterday, about when the Tánaiste learned of the attempt by the Garda Legal team to undermine the credibility of Garda Maurice McCabe, raises more questions than it answers, and weighty questions for that matter.

“The account, as given by the Department of Justice, asks us to believe that the Tánaiste, when told of ‘a row at the Commission’, in a case regarding one of the most high profile whistle-blowers, and in connection with a major controversy in an Garda Síochána – enquired no further than that.

“This is after the Tánaiste had met Garda McCabe and his wife, and was well aware of the significance of his complaints.

“That is simply not credible.

“Nor is it credible that the Department would have kept the Minister in the dark, in relation to such politically significant details as was the case in this strategy, unless the Minister wanted not to be formally made aware.

“And any hint of that sort of wink and nudge, plausible deniability, approach is equally as damning.

“She continued to give impression she was not aware of this issue, until it arose in the public domain, despite some element of this information coming to her attention almost 12 months later.

“What we are trying to establish, is if there is any possibility whether the attempts to discredit an honest honourable whistle-blower go right to the top of Government. That being the case, this goes right to the credibility of the Tánaiste, the Departmental officials, and Government.

“And in that context this is a political issue - it relates to the conduct and credibility of a Government Minister. It cannot wait for the Charleton Tribunal, we need answers now.

“The Taoiseach must today correct the record of the Dáil, and the Tánaiste must give a full statement, answering once and for all, in a credible way, when she found out, the full extent of the approach taken by the Garda Legal Team.

“And indeed, what happened on foot of that – why did she continue to maintain full confidence in Garda Commissioner O’Sullivan, when she was aware of this reprehensible strategy, and why was there no consequences or accountability for her or anyone else responsible?

“If she cannot do that, then the credibility of her position in office will be called into question.”

ENDS

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has said that "any affordable housing scheme launched by Government must be adequately funded."

His comments come as the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy finalises the details of a new affordable housing scheme

Deputy Ó Broin said:

"Minister Murphy is due to announce his new affordable housing scheme in the coming weeks. We understand that it will take the form of financial assistance for Local authorities to work with Approved Housing Bodies to deliver genuinely affordable homes similar to the Ó Cualann development in Popintree, Ballymun.

"The principles of this scheme are good. Households on incomes below €75,000 can buy good quality homes for between €170,000 and €225,000.

"While the building and mortgage finance comes from private banks, the state services the land and sells the sites to the Housing Association at below market costs. 

"There is no reason why Local Authorities themselves could not deliver such affordable housing. They could also use the same scheme to provide affordable long term rental for working people.

“Unfortunately the Minster announced just €25m for this scheme over two years. Given that the outlay per unit will be between €20,000 and €40,000 this means that somewhere between 625 and 1250 units could be delivered.

"Given the level of affordable housing need this is nowhere near enough.

“The government will claim it has other initiatives underway to deal with the issue of affordbality, such as the Help to Buy, the Local Infrastructure Fund and the Home Building Finance Ireland.

"Combined these schemes will see €1.1bn in loans, tax breaks and subsidies to private developers with no guarantee of genuine affordability.

“In our alternative budget for 2018 we prioritised investment in affordable housing. We proposed an investment of €428m to deliver 2,000 affordable rental and 2,500 affordable purchase homes in a single year."

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Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has called on the HSE and the Minister for Health Simon Harris to engage patients and clinicians in the row over the cost of the drug Respreeza which is used to treat sufferers of Alpha-1, a genetic condition that can cause severe lung and liver problems.

Speaking today, Deputy O’Reilly said:

“Anyone who knows someone who suffers from Alpha-1 will understand the great difficulties it causes in their life. This genetic condition that can cause severe lung and liver problems is one of the most common inherited conditions in Ireland. 

“In recent years those suffering from Alpha-1 have been receiving a drug called Respreeza, and before the summer the Alpha-1 Foundation representing sufferers explained to the Health Committee the improvements it was making in the lives of those who were taking the drug.

“I met many of the sufferers who were taking Respreeza after that Committee meeting and in my constituency clinics since, and they have all extolled the benefits of the drug.

“Unfortunately, in recent weeks the HSE said they will no longer be covering reimbursement. The patients are now in their third week of not having access to Respreeza.

"This is due to many issues but in this particular instance it is because neither the manufacturer, CSL Behring, nor the HSE, are willing to pay distribution and administration costs which are estimated to be about €120,000 per annum.

“Over the weekend the first of 17 patients who had, until recently, been receiving the drug Respreeza passed away. 

“I am calling on the HSE, the Minister for Health, and CSL Behring, to meet and to resolve this situation as the lives of the patients are being put at risk and it is causing severe emotional distress to their families.

"This is a shocking state of affairs, and one which nobody can stand over."

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Sinn Féin has described a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing St this morning as ‘very robust and frank’.

The delegation included Gerry Adams TD, Mary Lou McDonald TD, Michelle O’Neill MLA, Elisha McCallion MP and Conor Murphy MLA.

Sinn Féin Leader in the North Michelle O’Neill said:

“We told the British Prime Minister Theresa May this morning that her government must bear the greater responsibility for the failure to reach agreement on the restoration of the institutions.

“The provision of an Irish Language Act, Marriage Equality, a Bill of Rights and funding for legacy inquests are all British government obligations. 

“Progress is only possible if her government honours those commitments.

“We told Mrs May that direct rule is not an option and that she must look to the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement for the establishment of an intergovernmental conference involving the Irish and British governments.

“It has also emerged that the British government intend to include a statute of limitations ‘covering all troubles related incidents’ for British crown forces in a new section in their consultation on the Stormont House Agreement Bill. Such a proposition is no part of the Stormont House Agreement and despite being involved for the last ten months in negotiations with British officials Sinn Féin was never informed of this intention.

“We understand the Irish government was not informed either until we brought it to their attention.

“We told Mrs May that this is an act of bad faith and is unacceptable”.

Concluding Michelle O’Neill said: “The crisis in the North’s political institutions arose almost one year ago because of the scandal in the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme and allegations of corruption from within the DUP about the DUP.

“It also has its roots in the failure of the British and Irish governments to honour their commitments under the terms of the Good Friday and subsequent agreements, and to ensure that the rights of citizens are respected.

“We also raised with the British Prime Minister the widespread concern on the island of Ireland about the impact of Brexit on our economies and communities. Brexit is the single biggest threat to our economies. We challenged Mrs May to spell out how she believes a so-called seamless and frictionless border is possible. Sinn Féin believes this is only possible if the north is given a special status within the European Union.”

ENDS/CRIOCH

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Sinn Féin will vigorously support a major new trade union campaign against the public sector pay cap, the party’s Chairperson and spokesperson on Employment & Workers’ Rights Declan Kearney has said.

The South Antrim MLA was speaking as the Irish Congress of Trade Unions launched the ‘Better Work, Better Lives’ campaign involving 30 trade unions demanding an end to the 1% cap.

“Sinn Féin fully recognise the detrimental impact of the Tory Pay Cap on public sector staff,” he commented.

“It is our firm position that the pay cap should be scrapped and that the Tory Government should reverse its cuts to the North’s block grant to ensure we can provide proper public services and proper public sector wages.

“Since the Tories imposed austerity in 2010 some £1 billion has been lost in real terms from the Executive's budget for day-to-day spending. A further 3% cut is planned over the next two years. Austerity has caused unnecessary hardship, contributed to falling real wages, and consolidated inequality. The British Chancellor's statement tomorrow provides an opportunity to abandon the failed ideology of austerity in favour of an economic stimulus.

“Sinn Féin regularly and routinely engage with the trade union movement so we greatly welcome this campaign and will vigorously support it.

“It is vital that as many voices as possible within wider civic society oppose the Tory austerity agenda which is an ideologically driven assault on frontline public services, workers and the most vulnerable in society.”

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Sinn Féin spokesperson for Energy, Environment and Climate, Cathal Boylan MLA today welcomed the announcement by NI water that construction has started on their Solar Farm, which will power their water treatment plant.

The Newry and Armagh MLA commented:

“It is encouraging to see NI water take positive steps to decrease their carbon footprint and promote renewable energy. The use of solar energy is even more encouraging as more needs to be done to diversify our renewable energy portfolio in the North.

“The cost of renewable energy has dropped dramatically in the last few years, this together with the benefits of renewable energy will hopefully encourage NI water to look at installing Solar Farms in some of their other facilities.

“I would encourage more companies to invest in renewable energy, especially on the back of the Bonn climate change conference held in Germany last week. It threw into stark reality that we need more action and more ambition to tackle climate change.” 

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Speaking after the launch of the Audit Office report on homelessness Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Carál Ni Chuilin MLA said “it is clear from this report that the Department for Communities Homelessness Strategy 2012/17 has failed."

"The Audit Office report notes that homelessness is more than simply people sleeping in the streets, it is also about people and families having to live with relatives, in temporary accommodation or living in properties not suitable to their needs.

"The report makes it clear that not only has there been a 32% increase in the number of households designated as statutory homeless over the last five years but that the Housing Executive was unable to produce first hand evidence or published statistics to show why the rate of homelessness is so high or that they had been able to prevent people from becoming homeless."

Ms Ni Cuilin said that:

“Whilst the report voices a concern about the possible abuse of the Housing Selection Scheme it also needs to take account of a recent UN report which highlighted the impact of unequal access to social housing behind the high proportion of Catholic households on the waiting list and registered as statutory homeless

"As we have seen all to recently sectarian hostility and unionist territorial claims restricts access to social housing at the same time as there is a growing nationalist population with greater need to establish new households. This is leading to increasing overcrowding in many nationalist areas, with two and even three generations forced to share a home."

Commenting on that section of the report which states; "Sometimes homelessness is the result of personal difficulty or tragedy, family breakdown, ill health or addiction" Carál Ni Cuilín said;

"More often homelessness is the result of structural disadvantage, poor wages and high housing costs, negative equity and rising mortgage payments, unequal access to social housing, the negative impact of benefit cuts and changes.

"Everyone should have a right to a home and there is a particular emphasis on the Housing Executive to address what the Audit Office report has identified and which many of us have been pointing out for years, we need to build more social homes. 

"The Housing Executive are persistently failing to reduce demand for social housing through increasing the supply of homes and this is having a direct impact on the levels of homelessness across the North."

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson and TD for Dublin Mid-West Eoin Ó Broin has described as “alarming” the latest homeless figures from South Dublin County Council. The figures show a record high in the number of people in emergency accommodation with 459 households including 199 families in emergency accommodation at the end of October. The figures also show the number of people presenting as homeless in October at a record high, with 358 households. The figures also show a significant increase in both new and repeat presentations.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“In October, households presented to South Dublin County Council as homeless. Of these, 194 were new presentations. There were also 536 repeat presentations.

“These figures are very alarming as they show a significant upward trend in the number both presenting and being placed in emergency accommodation.

“Any reading of these figures shows that the Governments response to the homelessness crisis just is not working. Minister Murphy admitted as much at the weekend when he said that the crisis would get worse before it gets better.

“In fact, this crisis will continue to get worse until the Government changes policy. We need action to keep people in their homes such as restrictions on vacant possession and substantial renovation Notices to Quit. We also need a more aggressive approach to get turnkey properties and vacant homes into use to get individuals and families out of emergency accommodation.

“Minister Murphy is just three months into his job but he is clearly out of his depth. Continuing with the failed policies of his predecessor Minister Simon Coveney is a recipe for disaster. We need a change of direction and a new sense of urgency if the Minister is to turn this crisis around.” 

Note: Please see the SDCC Homeless Services Unit – Monthly Management Report for October 2017 attached

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