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Sinn Féin MEP calls for renewed efforts to combat homelessness

10 February, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today called for renewed efforts in combating homelessness.

Ms de Brún made her comments during a tour of South Down with Ms Caitriona Ruane MLA, where one her engagements will be a meeting with the Simon Community in Downpatrick.

Speaking before her visit to South Down Ms de Brún said:

"Over the past number of months I have been travelling to various parts of Ireland to meet with local communities and community groups. Today's visit to South Down is a continuation of that valuable outreach work. Both Caitriona Ruane MLA and myself will be meeting with representatives of the Simon Community in Downpatrick to hear first hand of the work they are involved in, and the extent of the problem in the South Down area.

"Sinn Féin is calling for a more cohesive co-ordinated strategy to help assist some of the most vulnerable people in society. Those who are homeless are not just deprived of a secure roof over their head, they also find it far more difficult to access many of the other services we take for granted.

"I want to commend the work of the Simon Community in helping the homeless make their voices heard and put their lives back on track in very difficult circumstances. What is required is a similar commitment from the statutory agencies.

"Levels of homelessness are rising in many EU countries, including Ireland. Serious action needs to be taken at an EU wide level to combat this growing problem. Throughout the enlarged EU more than 68 million people continue to live in poverty.

"There is a need for member states to agree EU wide targets and timeframes for the elimination of homelessness. This requires the adequate provision of social and affordable private housing. However tackling homelessness also requires the provision of employment opportunities and the combating of social exclusion." ENDS

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