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Sinn Féin MLAs lodge equality complaint over minister’s failure to address housing crisis

9 April, 2014 - by Alex Maskey, Fra McCann

Sinn Féin representatives have lodged a complaint today with the Equality Commission about the failure of DSD minister Nelson McCausland to address the housing crisis, which is hitting nationalists hardest.

Alex Maskey, Fra McCann and Mickey Brady are meeting the Equality Commission at 2.30pm today to lodge the complaint under equality legislation.

“This is the first time as far as we know that a political party has made a complaint to the commission using this aspect of the legislation,” said Alex Maskey.

“There is a housing crisis in the North. It is by far hitting Catholic families hardest who are on the social housing list.

“The minister and his department are failing to address this. They are also refusing to acknowledge the extent of the problem.”

And Alex Maskey said that the department was failing to properly monitor the impact in any meaningful way.

“They are refusing to collect the data for fear that it will publicly paint a stark picture of social housing inequality.

“This is the message we are bringing to the Equality Commission today. The Commission has a duty to monitor departmental compliance with equality obligations and investigate any breaches.

“We believe that DSD is currently in breach of their commitments and we are calling for an investigation.”

Fra McCann said that Sinn Féin isn't alone in raising these concerns.

“This isn’t just our view. It’s the view of many within the housing sector we’ve met including trade unions, housing rights campaigners, NGOs and most importantly those families and individuals in crisis.

“These issues have also been the focus of international concern.

“A recent report to the United Nations by the Special Rapporteur on housing, Raquel Rodnik, cited the need for more social housing here and highlighted the plight of many Catholic families in North Belfast.

“She urged the relevant authorities to ‘put in place additional efforts to address challenges to overcome persistent inequalities in housing in North Belfast.

“We have asked the Equality Commission what actions they have undertaken to progress international obligations within the department.”

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