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Ó Snodaigh gives guarded welcome to Housing Bill

31 March, 2009 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has welcomed the Housing Miscellaneous Provision Bill in Leinster House this evening. However, Deputy Ó Snodaigh was critical of omissions in the Bill which he said are both regrettable and unnecessary.

He said, "Sinn Féin welcomes this housing bill which presents the opportunity to make a positive contribution to improving housing services in this state – however, there are a number of omissions from the Bill which we believe are both regrettable and unnecessary, and that leave the bill wanting in many respects.

"One of the key areas that the Bill fails to deal with is that of homelessness. It is disappointing to see a Bill published only a month after the publication of the strategy on homelessness, neglects to deal with that particular issue.

"We in Sinn Féin believe that homelessness is the most acute denial of housing rights in our society. The fact that the government cannot bring themselves to propose an adequate legislative definition of homelessness in this Bill, let alone keep to their own commitments to actually combat it, is an indictment of an appalling government which has no regard for those people who sleep in the doorways of our streets and in the back lanes of the shops and restaurants which the infamous bankers and many government ministers and members frequent.

"We also have a huge reservation regarding the new proposed definition of social housing which will now include dwellings under the Rental Accommodation Scheme. It is our view that the Rental Accommodation Scheme does indeed have a role in addressing social housing problems. But it is also our firm view that the provision of social housing, funded by central government, via the local authorities must absolutely be the central element in any successful housing strategy. Once a person is renting through RAS they are effectively ‘housed’ according to the local authority. Why should the tax payer continue to subsidise the private landlord through this scheme when it would make far more sense for the state to provide those in need with social housing accommodation." ENDS

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