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O'Hagan - Latest Fuel Poverty breakdown highlights 6 County 'cold spots'

15 November, 2003

Sinn Féin Upper Bann representative Dr Dara O'Hagan has expressed concern at the high number of fuel poverty 'cold spots' after receiving a council-by-council breakdown from Westminster after requesting Labour MP Kevin McNamara to table a question. The figures revealed today show that the Craigavon, Antrim and Ballymoney Council areas had the highest levels of fuel poverty in the north of Ireland. With Ballymena, Belfast and Derry also having high levels of fuel poverty.

Commenting on the figures, Dr. Dara O'Hagan said:

"It is disgraceful and unacceptable that nearly 50% of homes in Craigavon suffered from fuel poverty and that in 5 other council areas that over 35% of all households also suffer from fuel poverty. These figures come in the wake of revelations that over 200,000 households in the north of Ireland are fuel poor.

"Through my work on the Assembly's Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee and as Energy Spokesperson for Sinn Fein I have been working on the issue of fuel poverty for sometime. I believe that fuel poverty needs to be prioritised in government and tackled as a matter of urgency by lowering energy prices and ensuring better standards of energy efficiency.

"In effect what we have a number of 'cold spots' in the North. Given the fact that over 1360 senior citizens died from the cold last year and the fact that nearly 40% of our children live in poverty we must act now. We need to create a 'Warm Zone' initiative driven both centrally and by councils that can deliver cheap and affordable energy to all homes where people are living in fuel poverty. We need to bring these people in from the cold. Action is required to tackle fuel poverty it must include measures to raise incomes, reduce energy prices, as well as installing energy efficiency measures in homes." ENDS

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