Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Mary Lou McDonald opens major homelessness event at European Parliament

23 May, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has this morning gave the opening address at a major conference on homelessness at the European Parliament in Brussels. Ms McDonald said that Sinn Féin "regards the delivery of adequate levels of appropriate social housing as key to the resolution of the homelessness crisis".

The day long conference was organized by the Sinn Féin MEPs office in conjunction with FEANTSA (the European Federation of National Organizations working with the Homeless and is entitled: 'What action is Europe taking to tackle homelessness'?

Speaking this morning Ms McDonald said:

"There are more than 65 million people living in poverty within the European Union today. Approximately 3 million people in the "old" 15 member states of the EU are homeless - figures for the newly enlarged EU are much higher. These are the cold statistics. But behind these statistics are 3 million individual stories of accumulated social problems, 3 million personal tragedies, untold hardships and bureaucratic obstacles.

"According to the Simon Community's most recent annual report published last year, not one of the 400 homeless people who used the Dublin Simon Community's Shelter in the previous year were housed by a local authority. This is directly the fault of central government which is not making adequate funding available to local authorities to increase their stock of social housing.

"Today's conference goes some way towards understanding the problems associated with homelessness and how we can collectively begin to address it. Sinn Féin regards the delivery of adequate levels of appropriate social housing as key to the resolution of the homelessness crisis. This has been proven to be the case in other states. By appropriate social housing, we mean housing to meet the needs of different types of households including single males and separated fathers whose needs are currently not being met through local authority social housing allocation programmes.

"In January of this year, a migrant worker found herself living on the streets in Coleraine, and became so ill that she had to have both legs amputated. This is the stark reality of the situation and governments must deliver for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society." ENDS

Note to Editor: The day long conference is being held at the European Parliament in Brussels today and is being attended by over 100 people from approximately 30 countries, including representatives of the European Parliament, Commission, national parliaments and NGO organisations from across Europe.

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