Thousands of people hit the streets to highlight the housing and homelessness crisis in Ireland

A photo of the Raise the Roof protest in Dublin.
Bryan Wall

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Dublin to protest the housing and homelessness crisis gripping Ireland. It comes as the crisis in the country continues to worsen.

A wide array of groups

Organised by Raise the Roof, a coalition of housing and political groups, the demonstration took place on Saturday 18 May. Roughly 20,000 people hit the streets, according to one report. Inner City Helping Homeless Dublin (ICHHDublin) said it was there to demand “an end to government “indifference”:

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The Workers Solidarity Movement (WSM) also attended the demonstration, arguing that the “housing crisis has taken the joy out of so many of our lives”:

Also attending the march was the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI):

Age Action, an advocacy group for older people in Ireland, was another attendee:

Member of the Irish parliament Richard Boyd Barrett, meanwhile, explained that he was there because of the “government’s disastrous housing policies”:

The bleak truth

But it was during the speeches that a number of activists highlighted for everyone the problems Ireland currently faces. Housing activist Fr. Peter McVerry explained to the protesters the scale of the crisis. He told them that the cost of renting or buying a home is “beyond the means of most” Irish people. He also revealed that:

Dublin City Council predicts that homelessness is going to increase for at least the next three years.

And what’s more, he pointed out that:

The prediction is that rents will go up by 17% over the next three years.

As a result, he accused the Irish government of being ‘the emperor with no clothes’.

Justifiable anger

John Douglas, the general secretary of union Mandate (which represents 40,000 Irish workers), argued that:

The land is here. The money is here. What’s lacking is a moral compass and a political will to build public housing for the people of Ireland.

He ended by insisting that:

We have to make change happen. If we don’t make change happen, no one else will make change happen.

Aisling Hedderman of the National Homeless & Housing Coalition also criticised the government’s handling of the crisis. She argued that it willingly “pumped” money into private emergency accommodation for people; but it would not fund the “prevention” of homelessness and the building of public housing. And she finished by arguing:

Let’s continue to organise in our communities, mobilise in our communities, and achieve a housing model for the people, by the people.

Irish senator Frances Black also spoke, as well as performing a song about Irish socialist revolutionary James Connolly. She said that he:

died for the people in this country so that the people in this country had equality. He did not die so that 4,000 children would be homeless in one of the richest countries in the world.

An uncaring government

With house prices and homelessness only getting worse in Ireland, the government seems to simply not care. Eoghan Murphy, the minister for housing, has suggested “co-living” as a possible solution. One developer-proposed co-living building in Dublin would have one kitchen per floor for tenants. This means that 42 people would share one kitchen on one of the floors. Given that the government sees this as a possible solution, it is clear that it doesn’t really care. So the only hope of solving the crisis is if people keep standing up, uniting, and demanding change.

Featured image via Twitter screenshot

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