Wednesday 16 October 2019

In Pictures: 'It's time for me and my children to get back to normal living' - meet the people demanding action on homelessness

18 May 2019; Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Rita Fagan from the Liberties at the Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Rita Fagan from the Liberties at the Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Taryn De Vere at the Raise the Roof rally. Parnell Square, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Brian Baitson and Keith Troy. Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Amy Smith, from Finglas, with daughter Ava, 8. Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Susan Cummings, centre, from Ringsend, with Fianna Fail local election candidates for South East Inner city Maria Bohan, left, and Elizabeth Watson. Raise the Roof rally. Parnell Square, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Raise the Roof Rally protestors occupy O'Connell Bridge, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Raise the Roof Rally makes its way down O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 May 2019; Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Alan Sherry

Thousands of people took to the streets of Dublin this afternoon to demand action on homelessness.

With an increasing number of people becoming homeless in Ireland, campaigners at the march criticised the Government’s record on the issue.

The event, organised by the Raise the Roof campaign, saw thousands walk through the city centre carrying placards and chanting slogans.

Activists made a series of demands, including the construction of more public housing, an end to evictions, more robust rent controls and a right to housing formally inserted into the state’s constitution.

They also criticised support levels for homeless members of the Traveller community and asylum seekers living in Direct Provision centres.

There are more than 10,000 adults and children without a home and living in temporary emergency accommodation in Ireland.

We spoke to some of the people taking to the streets of Dublin for better housing today.

Amy Smith, living in temporary accommodation in Finglas with two children: "I'm here to fight for a home"

“I’m here to fight for a home. It’s time for me and my children to get back to stability and normal living. I was in rented accommodation and the landlord wanted more money.

"Because he wasn’t allowed to do it legally he said he was moving his son in and that’s how me and my two kids ended up like this. I was in a B&B and now I’m in another place. It’s a nightmare.

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18 May 2019; Amy Smith, from Finglas, with daughter Ava, 8. Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

"I’m fighting for everything and trying to get everything but it all seems to get thrown back in my face. I know a lot of people in the same situation. It’s horrible. It’s disgusting.”

Rita Fagan, a community activist from the Liberties in Dublin: "We have a national crisis on housing"

“I’m here today because I believe what we have is a national crisis on housing. They’re talking about bringing out broadband for all the people in the country but I don’t think broadband is the top human rights issue in the country.  I don’t believe people shouldn’t have broadband but it’s about the urgency of it.”

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18 May 2019; Rita Fagan from the Liberties at the Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

She said she has been fighting for the regeneration of St Michael’s Estate in the south inner city for 21 years and was also campaigning for residents of Emmet Manor in Inchicore where almost 30 low-income families are set to be evicted as the landlord wants to refurbish the apartments and let them out at higher prices.

“In Emmet Manor there are 27 families being evicted and given termination notices. They can do so because of the legal system says they can because they’re doing it up.

“These people, whether we like it or not, by September will be made homeless.

“There’s something really wrong and sick. There’s something wrong with the Irish people. They say if you put a frog into hot water it will jump out but you can put one in cold water and boil it. What’s happening to the Irish people is they’re being boiled.”

Brian Baitson, an ESB worker from Coolock in north Dublin: "It’s a vicious circle and a dead end”

Mr Baitson said he turned out to support the homeless and people looking for houses. He said a friend of his who was attending the march is renting at exorbitant prices.

“He can’t get a mortgage because of the salary he’s on. He has to pay his rent himself because he can’t get any subsidies because both himself and his wife are working. They’re paying ridiculous money. They can’t get out of it. It’s a vicious circle and a dead end.”

Brian said much more social housing needs to be built.

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18 May 2019; Brian Baitson and Keith Troy. Raise the Roof Rally. O'Connell Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

“When my parents had young kids there was houses provided to help people get out of the tenements. It’s gone full circle now. People are back in accommodation with multiple people in a room. They’re back paying landlords money.

"Some of the landlords are in Government and they’re happy enough to stand up in the Dail and saying they’re doing this and that but they’re doing shag all in reality. Back in the 1960s some of the government had a vision of building social housing and it got people out of bad conditions.

"There were good families in social housing. Good kids grew up in social housing, got jobs and were then able to buy houses. Now we’re back in the vicious circle. It’s all about the profit now and forget about the worker.”

Mary Wall, from Ballymun in Dublin: "It's not normal, that's why we're here"

Ms Wall was part of three generations of her family who attended the march.

“It’s ridiculous what’s going on. My daughter lives with me and that’s fine because we have the room but there’s a lot of her friends and other people she grew up with who are in hotels and that. It’s so bad.

"I worked in childcare and I just know there’s going to be lots of problems with children put in that situation. It’s not normal. I can’t even visualise living in a hotel room with even one child never mind two or three. That’s why we’re here.”

Susan Cummings from Ringsend in Dublin: "You can't push people out of the city"

Ms Cummings attended with members of the Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group.

“We have a campaign to ensure we get the 550 affordable homes promised by the government on the lands across the road from where we live in Ringsend. My brother is living with us now.

"We have three generations living in the same house. My sister was made homeless. She thankfully now has somewhere to live but it’s about the whole community.

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18 May 2019; Susan Cummings, centre, from Ringsend, with Fianna Fail local election candidates for South East Inner city Maria Bohan, left, and Elizabeth Watson. Raise the Roof rally. Parnell Square, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

"We’re there to survive. We’re looking for the survival of our community. Our area is Dublin 4 and it’s working class and we want to stay there. We don’t want to be phased out.

"We don’t want to be ethnically cleansed away. Our community has been there for centuries and we have the right to remain. Our children have to leave and are told to go somewhere else. Why do people have to go somewhere else?”

“Everybody has somebody homeless even if you have a brother coming home or sister coming home staying on a couch because they can’t afford to go anywhere. If you go on a social list you’re talking 10 or 12 years. What’s the other option, emigrate? You can’t push people out of the city.”

Keith Troy, a construction worker from Dublin: "It's getting worse"

Mr Troy said people working in his industry have no job security and many struggle with housing issues.

“I’m a construction worker and the only work I can get is through agency work which is zero hour contracts. We don’t know if we’re going to be working from one week to the next or even one day to the next.

“I was with Permanent TSB for my mortgage and they’re after selling me off to Start Mortgages and already they’re getting onto me.

“There is no security there whatsoever. Even though I am working full-time I’m not guaranteed full-time work in the construction industry.”

“I think the government should be dismantled. Fianna Fail are not going to do it. I think everybody is calling for Fianna Fail to pull the plug. Realistically the only other option is to put pressure on the independents who are propping up the Government.

“There are local elections coming and people need to be asking candidates on the doorsteps what they’re going to be doing to make sure public houses and affordable houses are built. It’s the only way this crisis is going to end. It’s getting worse.”

With additional reporting from Press Association

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