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Hostel for homeless women in west Belfast could shut in weeks

Regina Coeli house in west Belfast, which caters for vulnerable homeless women, is set to close at the end of the month
John Monaghan

A HOSTEL for homeless women in west Belfast is set to shut its doors within weeks amid a row over funding.

The Regina Coeli Hostel, based at Lake Glen Avenue off the Falls Road, has been providing vital services to vulnerable women for the last 80 years but is due to close on August 31.

The Housing Executive has disputed claims it had withdrawn funding and said it was "awaiting further information from Regina Coeli to provide confirmation of the agreed budget" when it received a letter from the hostel chairman advising that the management committee had decided to close the hostel on August 31.

The spokesman added: "We will work with Regina Coeli and other providers to ensure clients are able to access a satisfactory service."

A protest was held on the Falls Road on Monday in support of saving the hostel, which is owned by the Legion of Mary, while West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said it was "his understanding" that representatives of the Housing Executive and Legion of Mary are due to meet this morning.

Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann said: "This situation needs to be dealt with urgently. The hostel caters for up to 21 homeless women many of whom have complex issues."

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll called on Minister for Communities Paul Givan to intervene to save the hostel, which has around 20 staff.

Charlie McGarry, the manager of Rosemount House in north Belfast, said: "If they (the Housing Executive) do not have the necessary funds then my next option would be to approach the First and Deputy First Ministers as there has been too many deaths on our streets thus far this year alone."

The hostel did not respond to a request for comment from The Irish News.

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