‘Recognise housing as human right’, demand city centre protesters

by Padraig Conlon

Thousands of protesters took to the city centre streets last weekend demanding the Government recognise housing as a human right.

The march last Saturday, March 9 – which was organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition (NHCC) – started from three separate points: The GPO, City Hall and the Housing Agency on Mount Street, drawing an estimated crowd of 4,000 people.

The NHCC is a group of approximately 50 community organisations, such as the Union of Students in Ireland, the National Women’s Council, the Irish Traveller Movement, SIPTU and Forsa unions, and various homeless charities.

It’s also part of the Raise the Roof collective, which is demanding the creation of a legal right to housing in Ireland and is supported by trade unions such as the Irish Congress of Trade Unions as well as political parties and community groups.

Both the Homeless and Housing Coalition and Raise the Roof are also calling on the Government to declare the housing crisis a national emergency, put an end to evictions, and to build 10,000 social housing units a year.

The march lasted for more than an hour, beginning from the GPO at 2.15pm and moving towards O’Connell Bridge, where marchers crossed the Liffey before going back onto the northside and moving down the quays to the Custom House.

Here, the crowd stopped, and targeted Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar with chants of “Murphy Must Go” and “Leo, Leo, Leo; Out! Out! Out!” respectively, before the march proceeded to Samuel Becket Bridge where it joined with other marches.

Following the meeting of the three marches, Cllr Tina McVeigh (PBP), one of the march organisers, addressed the crowd.

She said: “The housing crisis is reaching into all areas and all sectors of our society, not just those who are being forced into homelessness.

“This crisis now affects us all, not just those who are forced into homelessness or those teetering on the edge of an unaffordable rental market.

“[Minister] Murphy and this Government twists and turns and manipulates figures.”

Inner City Helping Homeless chief executive Anthony Flynn, who also organised the march, told Dublin Gazette what the march aimed to achieve and highlight.

He said: “What we’re trying to do is rally people and make them fully aware of what is going on in this city.

“We’re also trying to build into the [national housing demonstration on] May 11 protest – which is going to be absolutely massive – we’re asking people to come from all over the country and join us in Dublin.

“We have to send a clear message to the Government that we’re no longer going to accept the high rents that are being charged.

“We’re looking at a landlord state at the moment, and we’ve an over-reliance on the private sector to fix the social problem.”

He added: “We haven’t got enough social or affordable housing being built in the city; it’s a landlords’ game here at the moment.

“The Government must legislate for security of tenure, real rent control and affordable rents, like Berlin did this week.

“Housing must be made a Constitutional right.

“This is a crisis that is not going away, and both councils and the Government alike must now listen to the will of the people,” said Flynn.

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