Hundreds march in Dublin to protest housing crisis

Demonstrators want the Government to declare a national housing emergency

 

About 1,000 people marched in Dublin on Saturday to demand that a national housing emergency be declared by the Government.

If an emergency was declared, the Government could access special European Union funding to invest in housing.

The march was called by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition, which is also calling for increases in rent supplement rates, a halt to all evictions, rent certainty and increased protections for tenants.

The coalition is made up of more than 30 organisations, including the Peter McVerry Trust, the Dublin Simon Community, Pavee Point, trade unions Siptu, Impact and Unite, as well as the Anti-Austerity Alliance, People Before Profit, the Social Democrats and Sinn Féin.

The march, from Customs House to the GPO on O’Connell Street, included many who were directly affected by the housing crisis.

Families living in hotels, Tyrrelstown residents facing eviction after their rented accommodation was bought by a “vulture fund” and residents of the John’s Lane West and Brú Aimsir hostels, which face closure in the next two months, were among the demonstrators.

Another group marched from Ringsend before joining the protest.

This group was calling for a development at the Irish Glass Bottle (IGB) site to contain 100 per cent social housing.

Some 3,000 new homes are planned for the IGB site in Dublin 4.

Under the Part 5 planning regulations, 10 per cent of these homes are guaranteed to be social housing.

People Before Profit organiser in the Ringsend area, Annette Mooney, said there was no reason why 100 per cent of the homes could not be social housing, pointing to the success of large local authority estates built in the 1930s in areas such as Crumlin, Marino and Kimmage.

Also on the Ringsend march were Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and local councillors Chris Andrews (Sinn Féin) and Sonya Stapleton (Independent).

‘Unsustainable’

Among the demonstrators in the city centre was a woman who said she had lost her home after the break down of her marriage.

“My mortgage was unsustainable and I had to sell the house.”

She has moved back in to her mother’s home and now shares a bedroom with her 13-year-old son.

“He’s 5ft 10 and we have to share a bed. I had a bad debt and took responsibility for that.

“I feel very angry because it seems the little people like me have to take responsibility and suffer the consequences, while the bank and the big developers get away with it.”

Martin Collins, co-director of Pavee Point, said he was marching to “show support and solidarity to people affected by the housing crisis” and said Travellers were among the worst affected by unsuitable, inadequate housing.

There were numerous speakers at a rally outside the GPO, including Ann Farrelly, a volunteer with the Irish Housing Network, who said those in authority had “broken the social contract” with the Irish people.

“They demand our obedience. They demand we raise our children to keep the production lines and factories going. Well, it’s time we stood up and said, ‘We don’t like this system.’

“Housing is a right. It’s not an investment . . . They have broken the contract. Have no more fear. This is our country. Take it back.”

Erica Flemming, who has been living in a hotel room with her nine-year old daughter for more than 330 days, said: “The State has failed us. The State is failing our beautiful children. Why won’t they call this a national emergency?”

Fr Peter McVerry asked why the Ormond Hotel on the quays, which “has been boarded up for at least ten years”, could not be reopened and refurbished to house homeless people.

He called for legislation to stop any statutory body evicting, discharging or releasing anyone into homelessness,

Among the public representatives on the march were TDs Catherine Murphy (Social Democrats), Dessie Ellis and Louise O’Reilly (Sinn Féin), as well as several Dublin city councillors.