Aontú Deputy Leader& Cllr for Mid Ulster, Denise Mullen, has hit out at the Stormont Establishment parties for being oblivious to the growing societal ills which are hurting communities, as rises in drug usage, foodbank usage, suicide and poverty are seen across the North of Ireland.
Cllr Mullen: “The Stormont Establishment has long stopped addressing the needs of the people and communities in the North. Politics and power are preventing any progress on addressing the very real issues affecting our communities. Between 2020, over 31,000 food parcels were provided to children in the North. In 2020, the Trussell Trust charity provided over 78,000 parcels to children and adults. This is a 75% increase on figures for 2019 – 2020. 303,000 people are living in absolute poverty in the North. 350,000 live in relative income poverty.
That represents over 650,000 people in the North living in either relative or absolute poverty. Yet where is the focus in Stormont on this issue. As poverty increases, there is increased demand and pressure on supports like food parcels which are trying to compensate for the failures of Stormont to support every sector of our society.”
“As we have also seen raised by my party colleague in East Derry, Gemma Brolly, there is a very real fear that the housing situation in the North of Ireland could turn into a full blown crisis like we have seen and are seeing in the South. From the last Quarter of 2020, to the first Quarter of 2021, there was a 600 increase in the number of households presenting as homeless. In Q4 of 2020, there were 3,702 households presenting as homeless – by Q1 of 2021, that number was 4,306.
That is a higher figure than at any point during 2020. As social housing and house prices issues also concurrently arise, this will only serve to exacerbate and entrench the homeless crisis within our society. Stormont and its constituent parties are ignoring the rampant inequality, poverty and economic hardship crippling so many of our communities.
How is it not at the top of the Stormont agenda to address the rise in homelessness? Or to get 31,000 children in the North off food parcels? Or to address the over 650,000 people in some state of poverty in the North? The abdication of duty by Stormont is quite frankly appalling…”