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Government still not acknowledging scale of homeless and housing emergency – McDonald

23 September, 2017 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Speaking at the Sinn Féin Thomas Ashe commemoration in Glasnevin today, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD criticised the government for its failure to acknowledge the unprecedented scale of homelessness and to commit to the delivery of social and affordable housing in the numbers necessary to tackle the emergency in housing provision.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“Sinn Féin welcomes the erection of a Thomas Ashe commemorative plaque at the Mater Hospital in Dublin where he died a century ago after been force fed in prison whilst on hunger strike for political prisoner status.

“Thomas Ashe was a man of his time, one of a generation that took the fight against oppression and injustice. The heroism of his death, the selflessness of his sacrifice speaks for itself, echoing down the century - defiant, resilient, resolute.

“The legacy of Thomas Ashe challenges us now, in our time. We are challenged not only to remember, but to finish the historic journey, to reach the destiny of freedom for all our people. How would Thomas Ashe regard Ireland now, a century after his death?

“What would Thomas Ashe, an Irish language activist, make of the DUP setting its face against an Acht na Gaeilge in the north.

“Or how angry would he be at the inaction of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil who hand out their tea and sympathy in the Dáil chamber, only to step over the rough sleepers as they leave the gates of Leinster House.

“The scale of homelessness across Ireland is far bleaker than the figures suggest.

“The government’s figures do not include the thousands of women and children in domestic violence refuges on any given day, the families trapped in direct provision having status to stay but are unable to secure alternative accommodation or the unknown numbers of people temporarily sleeping on other people couches or in spare rooms skirting the edges of official homelessness.

“What would the Thomas Ashe of 1917 do today in 2017? He would stand by the people, he would defend them. He would be outraged at children being reared in single rooms in B&Bs just as he was horrified at the tenements of Dublin’s inner city during his own time. Thomas Ashe would build social and affordable homes at the scale necessary to address the national emergency in housing.

“It behoves us all here today to play our part in delivering an Ireland that Thomas Ashe would be proud of. A united, prosperous and just Ireland.” 

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