Sunday 20 October 2019

WATCH: 'Open your eyes and see the struggle' - Hundreds march in Dublin for action on homelessness

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

Hundreds marched in Dublin city centre on Saturday to highlight the country's housing crisis as the number of homeless people in Ireland soars above 10,000.

The demonstration, which originated from three different locations saw participants march from the GPO,  the Housing Agency on Mount Street and Dublin City Hall to Samuel Beckett Bridge.

Its purpose was to call the Government to action as the official number of homeless in Ireland breaks the 10,000 mark and over 80,000 people sit on waiting lists for social housing.

A banner held at the bridge called on the Irish public to take part in a much larger demonstration in Dublin on May 12.

Anthony Flynn, CEO of Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) said that the Government are failing the most vulnerable of its residents; those forced to live on the streets.

"The dogs on the street are fully aware of the fact that the government are not providing enough affordable or social homes," he said.

"We are seeing numbers of child homelessness go up month-on-month; we’re not seeing any reduction in numbers. What we are seeing is a constant air of denial and spin from the government in terms of actually tackling this crisis."

Mr Flynn said that the Irish government’s method of dealing with the problem is "totally unacceptable". He suggested that a rent cap similar to that of Berlin, which prohibits landlords from increasing rent by more than 10pc of the area’s average, should be implemented.

"Over €450m is going to be paid in 2019 to private landlords in order to subsidise housing assistance payment and that is just totally unacceptable," he said.

"That money should be put into affordable housing. The 80,000 people that are sitting on housing waiting lists and transfer lists and there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.

"The government are talking about acquisition and build programmes but unfortunately what we have is a voluntary housing body sector that is in €1.9bn worth of debt. We have a serious, serious problem and an over reliance on the private sector in order to solve that problem."

The march today will be followed by another in Cork on Monday night and next weekend in Galway which will seek to raise awareness for the major demonstration that will take place on May 12. Mr Flynn said that he is confident that the public will stay behind the movement.

"There is a big issue with regard to the fact that there is no rent control, we have a lack of social and affordable houses built right across the city at the moment," he said.

"We have a number of minority groups who can’t get access to housing, costs of rental properties is soaring we have issues in regard to the fact that the housing assistance payment is basically propping up the private rental sector at the moment and driving up the cost of rent.

"We have ample amounts of rough sleepers on the street. We have children and families who are being referred to Garda stations. Our Government are just not stepping up to the mark when it comes to actually tackling this crisis."

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News