Sell-out crowd rock it for 1,700 young people who are still without a home
Published 25/04/2016 | 02:30
More than 1,200 music fans packed the Olympia in Dublin last night for a charity concert to tackle youth homelessness - but that figure was dwarfed by the number of children who spent yet another night languishing in emergency accommodation.
Ireland's homeless crisis is now so severe that 1,700 children and young adults have no home, according to Focus Ireland.
However, last night musicians and rock fans came together to do something concrete to help at the 'Rock Against Homelessness' event.
The sell-out audience were reminded they were there to do more than just enjoy an impressive line-up of Irish talent - more importantly, they were there to raise money for young, homeless people.
Among the acts were The Strypes, HamsandwicH, Le Galaxie, Mundy, The Stunning, Heathers and Camille O'Sullivan, while hosts for the evening were TV presenters Laura Whitmore and Mark Cagney. The event, staged by Independent News and Media, was held to raise money for the Irish Youth Foundation.
Stephen Rae, Group Editor-in-Chief at INM, said homelessness had to be at the forefront of everybody's minds.
"When those less fortunate need support, it is up to each and every one of us to help in any way we can. A lot of people have given up their time to make this event happen for a very worthy cause. Hopefully, the funds raised will help make serious inroads to provide homes for those who most need it in the very near future," Mr Rae said.
Acting Arts Minister Heather Humphreys attended the concert along with her Cabinet colleague, acting Health Minister Leo Varadkar. She said that, while "there has been work done" on the issue of homelessness, she conceded "there is a lot left to do".
"We know it is a big issue at the moment and it is something that we need to address. It is something that we are very conscious of.
"This is the arts of song and dance and music raising money and awareness for an important cause," she added.
Le Galaxie kicked off proceedings, followed by singer Róisín O and Heathers and later a guest appearance from Jerry Fish.
The night finished with the High Hopes choir joining singer Camille O'Sullivan on stage for an emotional rendition of Prince's 'Purple Rain' in memory of the musician who passed away suddenly last week.
Before the crowd filed away for the night, host Laura Whitmore called on the audience to ramp up pressure on politicians to tackle homelessness.
Bidding goodnight to the crowd, Cagney told them: "You're very lucky because you've got a safe house to go to - not everybody does."
Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Cork native O'Sullivan compared the homeless crisis in Ireland with that of New York and London.
"When it involves children and people in vulnerable situations, some people need to leave their homes because of abuse and we are one or two steps away from that ourselves.
"In London and New York, you see it there, but Ireland seems to be in a terrible place," she added.
HamsandwicH singer Niamh Farrell said she was delighted to lend a hand last night.
"It's one of those gigs where you get asked to do it and just say yes. No questions asked.
"We all need to be pitching in and helping in any way we can. It is such a huge issue at the moment and it needs to get spoken about."
The concert was part of the Irish Youth Foundation's 'One For Ireland' campaign, which aims to raise €1m in April to directly improve the lives of children and young people who are homeless and living in emergency accommodation.
All funds raised last night will be distributed to nine organisations including Focus Ireland, Simon, the Peter McVerry Trust and St Vincent de Paul.