‘Slowly everyone I know is feeling pressured out of this once affordable city’

Activists in Cork city call for increased efforts to be made to address the housing crisis

Activists took to the streets of Cork city today in a bid to highlight the issue of derelict or vacant buildings and to call for increased efforts to be made to address the housing crisis.

Gary Baus, a member of People Before Profit, addressed the rally on the Grand Parade where he admitted that he was tired of losing his friends and neighbours to the housing crisis.

“Some get evicted. Some get priced out. Some leave the country altogether. Slowly everyone I know is feeling pressured out of this once affordable city. I work in the arts industry, and despite the Government’s praise for the arts, nothing destroys it faster than high rent.

“I have seen the same pattern repeat in cities around the world. With every rent increase you are forced to work harder and harder to pay it. If you manage a wage increase it is not long before your landlord comes along to swallow that too.


“So after a while you have to ask yourself, ‘Do I work for myself? Or do I work for my landlord’. It is our labour that pays the mortgage on the home of the landlord.”

Mr Baus said the desperation in the rental market is so pronounced that people are forced to compete with each other for accommodation that would never meet the Residential Tenancies Board minimum standard.

He stressed that you can’t open a restaurant or cafe without inspections but a landlord can profit from a substandard apartment without any oversight.

The rally, organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition, was the first of a series of monthly events of its kind to be organised in Cork city. A group of about 20 activists attended the rally which was unpublicised. A poster campaign and social media posts are hoped to increase attendance in the coming months.

Mr Baus said that “with enough planning” they expect the event to grow in size.

“We know if we organise we can win. And we have to get bigger and larger and stronger. We can be successful if we take action together. Ireland has the ability to provide everyone in need a dignified place to live.

“While we have 10,000 homeless and 62,000 on the housing list we also have over 200,000 vacant properties. Hoarding that supply keeps house prices artificially high. If you are an average person looking for a single place to live this is a terrible situation. But if you own multiple properties this situation allows you to generate massive profits.”


Meanwhile, the rally was also attended by friends Louise Jordan and Eithne Lynch from Blackpool and Ballincollig in Cork, respectively.

Ms Jordan said that she was pleased to see progress in relation to dereliction with the launching of the Vacancy, Dereliction and Regeneration Bill 2022. The Bill seeks to amend existing legislation in relation to vacant and derelict property, taxation measures and processes of upgrading existing property.

Ms Jordan said that politicians are following the lead of local people like Frank O’Connor and Jude Sherry who run the systems design agency Anois and have taken a volunteer role on the issue of dereliction. Last September they organised a “dereliction tour” of Cork city where they pointed out 70 derelict properties to participants.

Ms Jordan said her own daughter was “stricken with anxiety” arising out of the housing crisis.

“She has a young kid and the house she was living in was covered in mould. They couldn’t live in it. Luckily, a friend was going abroad and she was able to stay in his flat.

“The number of empty properties are huge. It is really a disgrace. The whole process of applying for a house is also awful. You are looked down on because you are applying for a house.”

Meanwhile, Ms Lynch said she decided to attend the protest following a jarring incident in Cork city centre.

“I came into town one Saturday and I was just parking my car and two young people came up to me and asked me if I knew anybody who had a place to rent. That’s how desperate they were. I couldn’t get them out of my mind.

“They were not from Ireland. My kids have gone abroad to live here and there, and I was trying to imagine them in that sort of situation. I felt such terror for the two people who came up to me.”