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Government Homeless Funds Freeze Unacceptable

27 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has described the decision of the HSE not to provide extra funding to establish new homeless services as a damning indictment of a government that puts the highly paid before those most vulnerable in society.

The Dublin MEP said:

“This government stood over the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector pay increases of senior civil servants including government Ministers, the judiciary and top gardaí amounting to approximately €16 million a year yet it is refusing to provide desperately needed and in some instances promised funding for new homeless services.

“It is damning that the Taoiseach and Health Minister can ensure the provision of public monies to increase their own salaries but cannot find nor manage the same monies to provide services to the most vulnerable in our society.

“The announcement by the Homeless Agency that no new funds are to be made available from the HSE and that existing funds are to be frozen to 2007 levels is simply unacceptable.

“We have a problem with homelessness in this country. Conservative estimates tell us that 485 children, the majority of who are under the age of 11, in Dublin alone are homeless. This information is in the public domain yet Bertie Ahern, Mary Harney and Brian Cowan refuse to do anything about it. I also question the silence of the Green Party, PDs and Independents on this issue.

“The Chief Executive of Simon Community noted this morning that the ‘Key to the Door’ campaign which was seeking to eradicate long term homelessness by 2010 is now not deliverable.

“In Europe MEPs have acknowledged that homelessness is one of the big challenges facing the European Union, a challenge we believe we are more than capable of overcoming if we set ourselves a strategic approach that delivers results.

“In December of last year I launched a major European initiative to end homelessness in all EU member states by 2015. I also called for the introduction of emergency winter plans for the homeless. In addition I called for annual progress reports on member state initiatives to reduce homelessness.

“If in Europe MEPs have committed to ending homelessness then I put it government that they should follow Sinn Féin and indeed the EU’s lead by making the necessary finance and  resources available to the Homeless Agency so that it can get on with the job it was tasked to do.” ENDS

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