Belfast Telegraph

More than a quarter of UK homelessness deaths happened in NI, figures show

The Human Rights Commission said Stormont’s near three-year absence had taken its toll on human rights.

More than a quarter of the UK’s recent homeless deaths happened in Northern Ireland, the chief commissioner of the Human Rights Commission, Les Allamby, said (Brian Lawless/PA).
More than a quarter of the UK’s recent homeless deaths happened in Northern Ireland, the chief commissioner of the Human Rights Commission, Les Allamby, said (Brian Lawless/PA).

By Michael McHugh, PA

More than a quarter of the UK’s recent homeless deaths happened in Northern Ireland, the Human Rights Commission said.

A total of 205 died in Northern Ireland over an 18-month period.

The Commission said Stormont’s near three-year absence had taken its toll on human rights.

Rising poverty and homeless figures in Northern Ireland give cause for much concern Les Allamby

Chief commissioner Les Allamby said: “Rising poverty and homeless figures in Northern Ireland give cause for much concern.”

He added: “Behind every death is an individual story and a wider tale of society’s failure to properly protect vulnerable people.”

He said the Commission’s 2019 annual human rights statement demonstrated that not one human rights concern had been effectively resolved in Northern Ireland.

“Whilst we welcome the movement on human rights compliant laws around termination of pregnancy, the introduction of same-sex marriage, and redress for victims of historical institutional abuse, so many other issues affecting victim rights, housing and healthcare remain unresolved.

“The UK Government has a legal obligation to tackle these outstanding human rights issues, outlined in today’s report, without hesitation.”

The figures in Northern Ireland are kept in a way which more accurately reflect homelessness than in the rest of the UK.

The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, addressed an event at Stormont on Tuesday.

He said: “The re-election of the Conservative Party Government was based in part on a campaign promising the end of austerity.

“In addition to more nurses and police, this must include the reform of Universal Credit and the restoration of the broader safety net.”

The Commission’s annual statement sets out “red light” issues that require immediate action by the UK Government, Stormont Executive or relevant public authorities.

They include: Conflict-related investigations; legacy inquests and inquiries; child sexual exploitation; access to financial support for unmarried couples, termination of pregnancy and anti-poverty measures.

PA

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