Belfast Health and Social Care Trust are creating a cold house for Roma community - Ó Muilleoir
Sinn Féin South Belfast MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has accused the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT) of creating a cold house for the Roma community after it emerged that the Trust has withdrawn its services from the Romanian Roma Community Centre (RRCANI) in South Belfast just weeks after the Trust's own report admitted major shortcomings in services to the Roma people.
“The Roma community understandably view this action as institutionalised racism. Across Europe, it’s accepted that the Roma are among the most underserved communities when it comes to education, health and social services. In Belfast, however, RRCANI has been praised for its efforts to ensure the inclusion and promotion of the Roma who have made their home in Belfast, helping these immigrants to access healthcare, jobs and housing.
“At a recent meeting with the Romanian Consul General, I was told that the RRCANI project is seen as exemplifying best practice in these islands.
“I have no doubt that the positive role of RRCANI over recent years has been central to the successful integration and inclusion of the Roma in the development of our changing city.
“However, none of this has been won without tackling stereotypes and old attitudes. The Roma suffer discrimination daily in almost every aspect of their lives.
“Their ability to overcome barriers to their inclusion has been set back by two recent decisions: the denial of Minority Ethnic Development Fund funding to the centre (the funding to support the development of RRCANI went from £74k to zero) and the decision last week of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust to withdraw its services from the RRCANI centre."
The South Belfast MLA welcomed news that legal counsel has been briefed to challenge the withdrawal of services by the Trust and said he had requested a meeting with the Trust CEO, the Equality Commission and the Health Department.
He added: “A report by the BHSCT in April 2018 states that the Roma are ‘a marginalised and vulnerable community with very complex health and social care needs’ and applauds RRCANI for working in collaboration with health authorities to break down barriers to healthcare access.
"Despite those plaudits, recent decisions by the authorities have served only to create a hostile environment for the Roma immigrants who have settled here.”