Northern Ireland news

SDLP councillor calls for urgent Belfast city council meeting over homelessness

Police at the scene of a sudden death on Academy Street in Belfast city centre on Sunday. Picture by Mark Marlow
Claire Simpson

A HOMELESSNESS campaigner and SDLP councillor has called for an urgent meeting of Belfast City Council over the number of vulnerable people on the city's streets.

Two young women, one understood to be a 19-year-old from Bangor, died in the city centre within a few days of each other.

A woman, understood to be 20, died on Academy Street on Sunday morning. The 19-year-old died just a few streets away on North Street on Thursday.

The SDLP's Paul McCusker said yesterday he had contacted Health Minister Robin Swann, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey and Justice Minister Naomi Long, inviting them "onto the streets" to see the issue for themselves.

He said he had also requested an urgent meeting of Belfast City Council.

"This is a real emergency and we need to see a response urgently," he tweeted.

He said swift action needed to be taken to prevent more deaths.

Mr McCusker said many people were self-harming, vulnerable and in distress.

He also raised concerns about the number of people who have taken drug overdoses.

"Better access to addiction services that include dual diagnosis, increase the hours for the needle exchange and a night time central hub that will allow all organisations to meet and co-ordinate services together will help with the situation currently in Belfast," he tweeted.

"This is urgent."

Northern Ireland news