The government in Ireland faces a mass movement over a housing crisis.
Up to 12,000 people marched in Dublin for a “Raise The Roof” rally last Wednesday. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the National Homeless and Housing Coalition called the protest. It was backed by every political party except Fine Gael, which is in government.
Some 10,000 people are now homeless, including almost 3,700 children.
A number of occupations and protests took place during the summer highlighting the scale of the housing crisis.
One occupation was violently evicted by security guards and police wearing balaclavas.
Long time housing campaigner Father Peter McVerry said at the rally, “This protest is not just about homelessness. This protest is about housing. There are at least half a million people in this country whose housing situation is causing them serious distress.
“We have a housing policy affecting a huge number of families from all social groups except the very wealthy in this country. The housing policy isn’t working. We have seen record numbers of homeless people, rent increases and we have seen the price of houses increasing.
“Most young people today growing up will never be able to own their own home. Let our politicians know we are going to vote homelessness out.”
In parliament a motion from left wing party People Before Profit—timed to coincide with the rally—called for a national emergency to be declared over the housing crisis.
People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett told the Dail about a woman he knows who is homeless and living in her car. He said, “Terry O’Reilly is living in her car in Shanganagh Cliffs in Shankill.
“She served eight years in the Irish Army, now she’s homeless.
“She has to wear patches for a medical condition that are sought after by drug users, so can’t go into hostels—where these drug users are—which is the only option being offered to her by the state.
“She served the Irish state but yet she is staying in a car in the estate where she grew up.”
He challenged the government. “Are you on the side of vulture funds, corporate greedy monsters and banks?” he asked. “Or the people who can’t afford a home, can’t afford rent and the 170,000 waiting for social houses?
“People are watching profits piling because of the human misery being imposed.” The motion was passed overwhelmingly.