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Adams challenges Taoiseach on failure to appoint a Minister for Housing

14 December, 2011 - by Gerry Adams

Speaking during Leaders Questions in the Dáil this morning Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD accused the Taoiseach of implementing ‘scrooge-like’ policies which will leave many homes “colder and poorer this Christmas.”

The Sinn Féin leader challenged the government on the impact of fuel poverty and excess winter deaths, and in particular on the issue of homelessness.

Mr Adams pressed the Taoiseach on the appointment of a Minister for Housing. The Taoiseach refused to give an explanation for the delay in this.

Speaking afterward Mr. Adams said:

“The refusal by the Taoiseach to appoint a Minister for Housing at a time of severe housing need and crisis is an abject failure of leadership and responsibility.

“It is a fact that a TD can stand on the plinth outside the Dáil and see the grim reality of homelessness in this city, where night after night – from summertime to the depths of freezing winter – people are forced to sleep rough.

“Homeless support groups report a significant increase in the demand for their services. There are 5000 homeless across the state while around 200 citizens sleep rough.

“In addition there has been a succession of deeply harmful cuts to homeless and housing budgets while there are over 300,000 empty houses and apartments in the state – many now owned by NAMA.”

The Sinn Féin leader reminded the Taoiseach that we are on the cusp of Christmas and accused the government of implementing “scrooge-like” policies.

“James Connolly once remarked that you can judge a society by the treatment of its lowest class.

“Five years ago there were 1,281 excess winter deaths. Most were elderly and vulnerable citizens. This year there will be more.

“In September the government cut the weekly fuel allowance; it also cut the allowance for fuel contained in the household benefits package, and now, as a result of last week’s budget, the fuel allowance has been cut by the equivalent of €120.

“The disgraceful treatment of the five women in St. Brendan’s Grangegorman is a shocking indictment of our mental health service. Mental health provision is the Cinderella of our health service. These women should be cherished not victimised.

“The reality is that the government is implementing scrooge-like policies which will leave many homes and families colder and poorer this Christmas.” ENDS

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