Sinn Fein’s Foyle MP Elisha McCallion has invited Irish premier Leo Varadkar to Londonderry after he criticised her and her council colleagues for not doing enough to tackle homelessness in the city.
She issued the invitation after the taoiseach praised footballer James McClean for his recent generosity in paying for hotel accommodation for six rough sleepers in his home city, before claiming Mrs McCallion should be doing more to address the problem.
Describing Mr Varadkar’s remarks as an exercise in deflection from an escalating homelessness crisis in the Republic, the Sinn Fein MP said: “It’s quite ironic that the taoiseach, whose government has presided over an unprecedented homelessness crisis, should seek to use this issue and exploit James McClean’s gesture in order to score cheap political points.”
Mrs McCallion was speaking after the Fine Gael leader criticised Sinn Fein during a speech in the Dáil, during which he inferred that Mr McClean’s benevolence counterpointed what he claimed to be a failure by Sinn Fein to tackle homelessness in the city.
Accusing Mr Varadkar of “electioneering”, Mrs McCallion said his comments were motivated by a fear of losing votes to Sinn Fein.
“There are a number of groups working diligently in our city with people who find themselves homeless. I would like to invite the taoiseach to Derry to see at first hand the work these wonderful people do,” she added.