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New homelessness strategy requires timeframes and funding allocation - McDonald

21 August, 2008

Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has said the Government's strategy to tackle homelessness is flawed and the Government is failing to meet the urgent needs of homeless people.

Ms. McDonald was speaking today as Michael Finneran, Junior Minister at the Department of Environment, launched the Government's strategy to tackle homelessness entitled 'The Way Home -- a strategy to tackle adult homelessness in Ireland 2008 -- 2013.

She said, "Brian Cowen, on becoming Taoiseach, said that despite economic downturn his Government is committed to the helping the most vulnerable in society. Homeless people are one such group. On the basis of the content of the strategy launched today Sinn Féin is of the view that the Government is failing to meet the urgent needs of homeless people.

"While the strategy contains many positive elements it is flawed as it contains no clear timelines, responsibilities or funding allocations. More importantly it has nothing to say about the failure of Government to meet their own social housing targets as outlined in the national development plan and partnership agreement.

"The Government is committed, under the National Partnership Agreement, to provide for the needs of 60,000 households between 2006 and 2009. They are also committed, under the same agreement, to provide 27,000 social houses and 17,000 affordable by 2009.

"Judging by the Department of Environment's own statistics the Government is well behind on these targets with one prominent homelessness charity predicting that they will fall 40% or 25,000 houses short of their social and affordable targets to 2009.

"In March of this year I helped secure a declaration from the European Parliament which commits the EU to ending street homelessness by 2015. At that time I had hoped that Ireland would live up to its commitment to end homelessness by 2010 and set an example to the other member states."

"Sinn Féin firmly believes that it is still possible to end long term homelessness by 2010 however this can only happen if Government increases investment in social housing and provides greater supports for those organisations working to end homelessness." ENDS

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