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Monday 1 September 2014

Homeless groups fight to halt €6m council cut as vote looms

Jerome Reilly

Published 14/01/2014 | 02:30

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Charity climbers in challenge to help homeless...Focus Ireland staff Elaine Fleming (left) and Catherine Maher taking part in the Focus Ireland Four Peaks Challenge in Kerry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday June 10, 2007. Hundreds of adventure seekers who climbed four mountains in one weekend have raised 425,000 euro for the homeless charity Focus Ireland. The charity's Four Peaks challenge saw 80 teams of climbers scale the highest mountains in each of Ireland's four provinces in just 36 hours. See PA story SOCIAL Climb. Photo credit should read: Valerie O'Sullivan/PA Wire...A
Catherine Maher

A last-ditch effort is under way to stop Dublin City Council slashing €6m from its budget to tackle homelessness.

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In all, 27 organisations have banded together to lobby city councillors ahead of a crucial vote tonight.

Advocacy groups say the new round of cuts will lead to the worst homelessness crisis in the capital for decades, as public donations have already dried up because of the so-called top-ups controversy affecting some charities.

The Dublin Homeless Network -- which lists Focus Ireland, Merchant's Quay Ireland and the Depaul Trust among its members -- said a new round of cuts would drive many organisations to the brink.

Catherine Maher of Focus Ireland said: "Official figures released in November confirmed what frontline organisations have been saying all year. More and more people are being forced to sleep rough on our streets and a rising number of people are being given temporary shelter in B&Bs."

City councillors meet tonight to vote on the draft budget proposed by officials for this year, and a furious round of last-minute lobbying was under way last night to convince councillors to vote down the budget cut for homeless services.

"Our members have very high standards of governance and transparency, yet we were badly hit during our key Christmas fundraising period because of public anxiety caused by poor practices in other charities," said Ms Maher.

DIFFICULTIES

"This fall-off in donations, coming after five years of cuts in public funding, means each of the homeless charities were already starting the year with severe funding difficulties even before we heard of the €6m proposed cut from Dublin City Council."

The Dublin Homeless Network said the proposed cut flew in the face of the Government's Homelessness Oversight Group, which specifically called for no further cuts in homeless funding.

Irish Independent

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