Belfast Telegraph

Response to Notre-Dame fire little comfort to victims of Grenfell says Eamonn McCann

Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris following a fire which destroyed much of the building on Monday evening. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 15, 2019. See PA story FIRE NotreDame. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Smoke is seen around the alter inside Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. (Philippe Wojazer/Pool via AP)
The steeple of the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral collapses as the cathedral is engulfed in flames in central Paris on April 15, 2019. - A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
An aerial view of the fire raging at Notre Dame Cathedral. (Photo by - / AFP)-/AFP/Getty Images
Firemen inspect the Notre Dame cathedral after the fire in Paris, Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Experts are assessing the blackened shell of Paris' iconic Notre Dame cathedral to establish next steps to save what remains after a devastating fire destroyed much of the almost 900-year-old building. With the fire that broke out Monday evening and quickly consumed the cathedral now under control, attention is turning to ensuring the structural integrity of the remaining building. (AP Photo/Christophe Enaa)
Flames and smoke are seen as the interior of the Notre-Dame Cathedral continues to burn on April 15, 2019, in the French capital Paris. - A huge fire swept through the roof of the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, sending flames and huge clouds of grey smoke billowing into the sky. The flames and smoke plumed from the spire and roof of the gothic cathedral, visited by millions of people a year. A spokesman for the cathedral told AFP that the wooden structure supporting the roof was being gutted by the blaze. (Photo by PHILIPPE WOJAZER / POOL / AFP)PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images
Flames rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A fire fighter uses a hose as Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Firefighters tackle the blaze as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
People pray as Notre Dame cathedral burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Flames illuminate the night sky as Notre Dame cathedral burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Firefighters use hoses as Notre Dame cathedral burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Firefighters tackle the blaze as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Firefighters use hoses as Notre Dame cathedral burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A fire fighter uses a hose as Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
File photo dated 01/03/15 of the North Rose stained glass window at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France, which is feared to have been destroyed by fire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 15, 2019. See PA story FIRE NotreDame. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire
A fire fighter gestures as a hose as Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
People watch Notre Dame cathedral burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
People watch Notre Dame cathedral burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
A fire fighter tackles the blaze as flames and smoke rise while Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
A fire fighter tackles the blaze as flames and smoke rise while Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris' soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations Monday, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world as tourists and Parisians looked on aghast from the streets below. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
People watch as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
People watch as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
People watch as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
(Lori Hinant/AP)
(AP)
(Thibault Camus/AP)
(Thibault Camus/AP)
(Thibault Camus/AP)
(Thibault Camus/AP)
(Lori Hinant/AP)
Thibault Camus/AP)
(Lori Hinnant/AP)
(Thibault Camus/AP)
(Michel Euler/AP)
Firefighters tackle the blaze at Notre Dame (Francois Mori/AP)
Smoke and flames coming from the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Photo credit: Ashley Huntington/Mercedes Girona/PA Wire
Handout photo taken with permission from the twitter feed of @slopezserra of smoke pouring from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which is on fire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 15, 2019. See PA story FIRE NotreDame. Photo credit should read: @slopezserra/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Lori Hinant)
Handout video grab taken from the Twitter feed of @leistomania93 of smoke and flames coming from the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 15, 2019. See PA story FIRE NotreDame. Photo credit should read: @leistomania93/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Lori Hinant)
Notre Dame cathedral is burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Lori Hinant)
Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - (Photo by Pierre Galey / AFP)PIERRE GALEY/AFP/Getty Images
The steeple collapses as smoke and flames engulf the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images
Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame Cathedral (Michel Euler/AP)
Firefighters tackle the blaze at Notre Dame (Thibault Camus/AP)
Crowds watch from a safe distance (Thibault Camus/AP)
Smoke billows from Notre Dame Cathedral (Lori Hinnant/AP)
Notre Dame Cathedral by the River Seine (Mike Egerton/PA)
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (David Davies/PA)
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Former Foyle MLA Eamonn McCann has said that the response to the Notre-Dame fire has highlighted how the victims of the Grenfell Tower diaster were failed in the aftermath.

The long-time political activist pointed to the millions raised in support of the Notre-Dame reconstruction, while residents of Grenfell Tower are still living in temporary accommodation two years after the fire.

The June 2017 fire at the west London Tower block resulted in the deaths of 72 people and left hundreds homeless.

Police and fire services believe the fire, which began in a malfunctioning fridge-freezer, spread due to the type of cladding used in the building's exterior.

Folllowing the fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral on Monday night, nearly £700m has been raised to pay for refurbishments.

Mr McCann, who is running for election to Derry City and Strabane District Council in May, said that while he accepted people would be upset by the damage to Notre-Dame, the human cost following Grenfell had largely been ignored.

"The victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster two years ago must be kicking themselves they never thought to install stained glass windows in their flats," the 76-year-old said.

"Survivors mourning for their friends and neighbours can only wonder at the vast generosity towards Notre-Dame when compared to the grudging response to the tragedy which saw 72 people perish in an avoidable inferno.

"Close on a billion pounds has been donated for the refurbishment of Notre-Dame. But many Grenfell Tower residents still don’t have a home to go to."

Mr McCann suggested the lack of response to the Grenfell tragedy may have been due to the background of those who lived there.

Eamonn McCann
Eamonn McCann

"The blaze at Notre-Dame appears to have been accidental, but the Grenfell tragedy was not only forseeable but had been foreseen. Residents had complained about the fire hazard - to no effect," the former MLA said.

"The cathedral of Notre-Dame is a cultural treasure. Dismay at its destruction was inevitable and understandable. The impulse to restore it to its former glory is right and proper."

The veteran civil rights campaigner said that the Notre-Dame fire had shown that priorities had "largely been lost sight of".

Mr McCann criticised Prime Minister Theresa May's reaction to the Grenfell fire.

"Her pledge to the Grenfell families that they would all be housed in suitable accommodation within three months has simply been forgotten," he said.

"The super-rich who coughed up a billion in no time at all for Notre-Dame all kept their hands in their pockets when it came to the people of Grenfell."

A UK Government spokesperson said that they remained committed to ensuring every victim of the Grenfell disaster is provided with a new home.

“There is nothing more important than ensuring that those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy receive the support they need," the spokesperson said.

"The Government has committed over £80 million to help the community recover, including supporting rehousing, new mental health services, investment in the Lancaster West Estate, and a new community space.

“Everyone who lost their home as a result of the fire has a permanent home reserved for them and 90% have moved in.”

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