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Alban Maginness challenged over claim to be North Belfast housing champion Sinn Féin

29 November, 2007

Sinn Féin Chief Whip, North Belfast MLA Carál Ní Chuilín haschallenged Alban Maginness over SDLP claims to be housing champions and champions for the vulnerable.

Ms Ní Chuilín said:

"Everyone who remembers that Alban Maginness campaigned against the Milk Marketing Board Housing scheme here in North Belfast will find his pathetic attempt to pretend that he is a housing champion little more than a sad joke.

"We also now have a situation where the SDLP Housing Minister is saying that she can't build any new social housing next year and is threatening to cut the Warm Homes Scheme by £10 million and Housing Executive grants by 50%.

"Yet, the Social Development Minister is a member of the Executive, sometimes, and has responsibility for tackling the housing crisis facing our communities. How will the circle be squared? How will we explain that to the people who are on the housing waiting list in north Belfast? Where anything from 76% to85% of those in acute housing need are Nationalists?

"The SDLP can prioritise the money for the area-at-risk programme, where £3 million was skewed towards loyalist areas but not money for housing.

"Everyone agrees that there is not enough money in the draft Budget. We must examine the legacy of underfunding, and deprivation in infrastructure and social services. Every Department faces tough decisions and every department has to prioritise its spending. There is a need to show creativity andimagination and no need for scaremongering. We need leadership, and not emotional blackmail. The unofficial opposition must tell us what they intend to do, instead of what they do not.

"Claiming to be a champion for this or that just doesn't cut it. We need to see some action. Alban needs to come clean and tell us what the SDLP are going to do on housing. He could start by apologising to the more than 200 people who will be living happily in their new homes this Xmas in the Milk Marketing Board Housing scheme here in North Belfast." ENDS

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