Hundreds march for action on ‘heartbreaking’ housing crisis in Cork

Attendees call for political change to address accommodation shortfall

Up to a thousand people took to the streets of Cork on Saturday afternoon for a Raise the Roof campaign rally with protesters calling for immediate changes to the Government’s housing policy.

Among the attendees was Caitríona Twomey, who runs Penny Dinners soup kitchen in the city. She said she was representing members of the public who come “crying, emotional and upset” to Penny Dinners seeking basic foodstuffs.

“Also those who are in homes but facing eviction. Those with rent increases. Those who can’t afford to pay their mortgages. And those who are on the streets. I believe that the homeless statistics don’t represent [the reality].

“It [homelessness] is much, much higher. There are three or four generations living in a family home now. And they are just not going to get any place. The Government has to take notice. People wouldn’t be on the street protesting if there wasn’t any issue. The issue is huge.


“We [at Penny Dinners] are at the coalface of it and we can’t handle it any more. It is too heartbreaking. I have no answers for anybody that comes to me. I can’t do anything for them.” Ms Twomey said all she could do was give people “a sleeping bag, comfort, and a kind word”.

Meanwhile, Martin Leahy from Ballinadee in Co Cork told Cork’s 96FM that he is facing eviction and fears for his future. The musician, who was attending the protest, said he travels to the Dáil every week to highlight housing issues.

“It was week 57 of my protest last Thursday. I [always] play my song Everyone Should Have a Home. I have an eviction notice looming but I haven’t been served yet. That is terrifying. What is available [housing wise] is outside my price range.

“I think the turnout today is inspiring but it is sad that we have to do it. It is a regression in our society. It is terrible to think that people have to take to the streets for a basic human right such as housing.”

A college student, who gave the name Judith to 96FM, said she was attending the rally to demand action from the Government. “There are over 3,000 children homeless in the country at the moment. I can’t believe that the Government is doing nothing to provide this human right,” she said.

“There has been a lot of anti-refugee rhetoric as a scapegoat for the housing crisis. But we really need to shift the blame from refugees to the Government. We need proper housing immediately.

“There are also so many college students homeless at the start of the year. It could be me next year.”

Meanwhile, Siptu TEAC division organiser Adrian Kane said the Government was failing to listen to the concerns of the electorate.

“If anything is a testament to this fact, it was surely the last two significant actions concerning housing that this Government took: lifting the eviction ban and waiving development fees.

“And I believe it will continue not to listen because it comprises of parties that are united in an ideology of ‘I’m all right, Jack, increase property values so the rich get richer’ and a fundamental disregard for the working people of Ireland. That is why I believe the message we must take from our years of marching is one thing: we need political change. We need radical political change.”