Northern Ireland news

Rally for Regina Coeli workers following sackings

A rally in support of the Regina Coeli hostel staff that were sacked this week. Picture Mal McCann.

WORKERS occupying Belfast's only hostel for homeless women have held a rally at Belfast City Hall following their sacking last week.

Staff began a 'work-in' at Regina Coeli hostel around eight weeks ago in protest at its planned closure.

Workers were suspended but stayed on to help women needing addiction and mental health support.

Although most have now gone to alternative accommodation, one is still being cared for at the hostel.

Management announced in November that the building needed £500,000 of repairs and had to close.

The building is owned by the Legion of Mary - a Catholic voluntary organisation. The hostel is run by a management team staffed by volunteers.

Trade union Unite said last week five staff had been sacked.

Susan Fitzgerald, from Unite, said the sackings came two days before their date of redundancy.

"This is a despicable decision – it adds insult to injury," she said.

Martin Dummigan, vice-chairman of the hostel's management team, said he could not comment "for legal reasons".

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said the hostel must be saved.

"If it were to close, Belfast would lose the only facility which can cater to women with homelessness as well as drug dependency or a history of domestic abuse - a catastrophe given the levels of need," he said.

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Northern Ireland news