Kelly 'is the only minister who understands' says McVerry
Environment minister Alan Kelly has been singled out from among his cabinet colleagues by campaigning cleric, Fr Peter McVerry, as the only minister who understands the problem of homelessness and the only one who wants to deal with it.
Fr McVerry's praise for the Labour politician came in the course of addressing a crowd of several thousand people assembled outside the GPO, on Dublin's O'Connell Street, yesterday afternoon in protest against the imposition of water charges.
The rally, which was organised by the Right2Water campaign, took place as the members of Fine Gael convened at Citywest on the outskirts of Dublin for the party's Ard Fheis.
In the course of an impassioned speech, Fr McVerry condemned the Government for having failed to recognise the suffering and the hardship that had been imposed on ordinary people, and particularly those surviving on low incomes.
While Fr McVerry was highly critical of the Coalition, he singled environment minister Alan Kelly out for praise in relation to his efforts to address the homelessness crisis.
He said: "I want to give credit where credit is due. Minister Alan Kelly is the only minister who understands the problem of homelessness and who wants to deal with the problem of homelessness.
"He would like the rent supplement to be increased as all the [homeless] organisations have been calling Burton two years, but the Minister [for social protection] Joan Burton won't agree to that.
"He wanted rent certainty linked to the consumer price index but the Minister for Finance [Michael Noonan] wouldn't agree to that."
Fr McVerry said the message needed to be relayed to the Government that homelessness and housing as well as water were election issues. He said people could no longer afford to pay water charges or to even keep a roof over their heads.
"We have a homeless crisis. We have had a homeless crisis for the past two years. It is now growing into an emergency and there is no recognition in government of any urgency for addressing this problem," he said.
The protest outside the GPO heard from several other speakers, including Brendan Ogle, Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, United Left Alliance TD Joan Collins and Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger. The protest was one of several held across the country.