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Sinn Féin challenges Tony Blair on debt

5 March, 2005


Sinn Féin representative for South Belfast Deirdre Hargey speaking to motions 152,161 and 166 on Housing, Social Inclusion and poverty challenged Tony Blair to cancel the huge amount of debt that the Housing Executive in the North of Ireland pays annually to the British Exchequer. This would allow the development of decent public sector and social housing within the North of Ireland and would close the gap in housing provision to the benefit of the many disadvantaged and disenfranchised communities in the North‰

We are the party that articulates the needs and demands of the most marginalized, disenfranchised and disempowered sections of Irish society. It is of paramount importance that this party reflects the needs and wishes of these and all other sections of our society to build a truly inclusive "Ireland of Equals". I want to speak in support of motions 152,161 and 166 in relation to Housing, Social Inclusion and poverty.

I support motion 152 calling for a freeze in rents in the social housing sector and close the gap in housing provision. Everyone has the right to a decent quality of life. It is a right enshrined in the 1916proclamation. Everyone is entitled to decent affordable housing.

Tony Blair who thinks he is a statesman agreeing with the eradication of debt in developing countries. I would therefore challenge on him to cancel the huge amount of debt that the Housing Executive in the North of Ireland pays annually to the British Exchequer. This would allow the development of decent public sector and social housing within the North of Ireland and would close the gap in housing provision to the benefit of the many disadvantaged and disenfranchised communities in the North.

I support motion 166 and would also call on the government to take a more proactive role in resourcing the voluntary and community sector to allow the sector to develop and empower communities across the country.

For long enough government can be accused of nothing more than paying lip service. It is now time for them to give a commitment to real and meaningful partnerships. The building of genuine partnerships for mutual interests based upon mutual respect and cooperation are and should continue to be key building blocks within our party. Sinn Fein activists should continue to advocate for the right to social, economic, gender and cultural equality. We must also continue our role of building partnerships throughout the country in a strategic and organised fashion.

I support motion 161 and the development of a strategy highlighting the effects of poverty across the 32 counties. This is invaluable work that must be supported and resourced. We must continue to strive for the elimination of poverty within Irish society along with the right to a decent quality of life and equality of opportunity for everyone on this island. The need to eliminate poverty in Ireland needs not be explained at this Ard Fheis. While these motions are not the sole solutions if implemented they will enhance our strategic objectives. I would therefore urge all here today to support motions 152, 161 and 166.

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