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Homelessness should be a priority issue: bishops

By Sarah Mac Donald - 05 December, 2014

homeless 2The bishops have invited the faithful and people of goodwill to look out for their neighbour and offer support to the vulnerable, elderly and less well off during Advent and Christmas.

In their statement at the close of their winter general meeting, the bishops conference expressed support for the call made by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin for a public summit of all agencies involved in dealing with the growing problem of homelessness.

They said the issue should be a priority target for society to accurately determine the underlying factors which cause homelessness, and to eradicate homelessness completely in Ireland.

They also discussed the increasing quality of life pressures facing individuals and families, especially at this time of year and in particular those who are experiencing domestic violence, the burden of financial debt, unemployment, inadequate food or heating in the run up to Christmas or homelessness.

Noting the financial demands on people over the last six years of recession, the bishops encouraged those who can to generously support the Christmas appeals of Crosscare, Peter McVerry Trust, Focus Ireland, the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People and the St Vincent de Paul Society.

They suggested people could support these charities by volunteering their time; by providing food, children’s toys or clothing; and/or by way of financial assistance, so as to help those most in need.

They also asked for appropriate prayers to be offered at Masses throughout the country this weekend.

Meanwhile, on Thursday the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly pledged that enough beds would be made available by Christmas for everyone sleeping rough in Dublin at the moment.

He made the commitment following a day-long meeting of 50 representatives including religious leaders, representatives of homeless and housing charities and advocacy groups, and political representatives.

Up to 220 additional beds are to be made available for rough sleepers.

The meeting in Dublin was held in response to the death of Jonathan Corrie on Molesworth Street and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s call for a public summit.

The Homeless Executive is inspecting the church building offered by Archbishop Martin earlier this week which he said could provide accommodation for up to 40 people.

Speaking on the way out of Thursday’s meeting, Archbishop Martin described the discussion as “very honest” and he said Minister Kelly had shown he wanted something done.

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