SDLP councillor Paul McCusker has called for an immediate intervention to tackle issues around homelessness and addiction in Belfast.
He was speaking after a candlelit vigil at Belfast City Hall on Sunday evening.
Councillor McCusker said:
“It was extremely poignant to see hundreds of people gather outside Belfast City Hall on Sunday evening to highlight the need for greater support for everyone experiencing homelessness, addiction and mental health issues.
“The last few weeks have been very difficult ones for people in this city, with more lives lost on our streets as a result of these issues and we need an immediate intervention before this crisis deepens further. The crowds gathered on Sunday shows the breadth of public support for this issue, but it’s deeply regrettable that is has gotten to this stage and we have had to take to the streets and demand action.
“While community and voluntary groups do everything we can to help people dealing with homelessness and addiction, there is only so much we can do. We need to see proper help established to get these people off the streets and to help them deal with the issues that have led them there in the first place.
“We need more beds for high risk and vulnerable people, overdose prevention facilities to support people in the grip of addiction and dual diagnosis services to help people get their lives back on track. The situation on the streets of Belfast at the minute is stark, vulnerable people’s lives are at risk and I’m calling on the Health, Communities and Justice Ministers to come down and see the situation for themselves so that they can grasp the gravity of the current crisis and the importance of addressing it immediately.”