Housing is a Right – Not a political football
Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan has that said Sinn Féin believe that Housing is a right and that the provision of affordable social housing should be a key to that right.
The MLA made his comments after he accused both the SDLP and Ulster Unionists on Armagh City Council of playing political football with the issue of the provision of housing after a debate in the local Chamber.
Mr Boylan described an SDLP motion demanding the Executive to ensure that the final budget and investment strategy provide adequate funding for social and affordable housing, as shallow and cosmetic.
"The motion was a smug, cheap and indeed pathetic attempt by the SDLP and their playmates the Ulster Unionists to score political points on the backs of the thousands of people who are caught in the housing trap.
"It also a fairly naked attempt to try and hide the fact that the Housing Minister is using the blanket of a perceived inadequate budget to camouflage her own and her department's failings on delivering on this matter.
"The facts are Margaret Richie went to the Executive to seek £1.2 billion for Social Housing, knowing that it was a totally unrealistic sum within the confines of the bloc grant - then she has the gall to complain about it when her request is not met. She has made nor revealed no plans to alleviate the current housing crisis and in an effort to highlight the perceived shortfall in her Department, she has initiated cuts across a host of areas, including the maintenance and upgrading of the current housing stock carried out by Housing Executive and by such schemes as the Warm Homes Scheme.
"Let's be clear, the Minister could very well afford to sustain the Warm Homes Scheme, that she has chosen not too is a reflection on her inability to prioritise the funding within her budget to achieve the best results for those most in need within our community.
"For the thousands of people, mainly pensioners on the warmer homes waiting list for yet another Christmas without fit for purpose warm homes, the ministers inability to make the right decision is a disgrace.
"Everyone recognises that all Departments are working under the restraints of a legacy budget, and a draft budget that all members of the Executive supported. Every minister has a budget that they can work with, every minister has responsibilities. There is a need for them to prioritize and start delivering." ENDS