'We can't say things are OK, 3,725 kids will spend Christmas in emergency accommodation' - up to 15,000 join housing protest
UP TO 15,000 people have taken to the streets of Dublin in the latest campaign to highlight Ireland's housing crisis.
The protest was organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition, a collective group of campaigners that includes unions and homeless activists, who are calling for better housing conditions.
It comes days after the Housing Department released its homeless figures for October, which now stands at 9,724, an increase of 26 people.
Protesters gathered at the Garden of Remembrance before making their way through the city.
Tina McVeigh, People Before Profit co-chairperson, said that the homeless figures released earlier this week are "only the sharp edge of the wedge".
Speaking to the crowd, she said: "Behind those figures are tens of thousands of people all over the country that are effected by this crisis.
"The policies of this Government do not help the people and they do not build the public homes that we need to house our people. People are disgusted.
"We are demanding radical action and we are back out on the streets to remind them that we are still here. We are not going away.
"(Housing Minister) Eoghan Murphy and Fine Gael tried to tell us that everything was Okay. They talk about the economy and they want us to think we all have highly paid jobs. They want us to believe that everything is okay. We are saying it's not okay.
"We can't talk about things being okay when they are 3,725 children that will spend this Christmas in emergency accommodation."
The protest comes two months after 10,000 people gathered outside Leinster House for the Raise the Roof Rally.
Brian McLoughlin from Inner City Helping Homeless said that up to 15,000 people took part in Saturday's protest.
"People are out on the streets for the simple reason that crisis has reached a national emergency level," he said.
"We have 10,000 officially homeless but the reality is the figure is probably double that.
"In the last four years the number of children facing Christmas in emergency accommodation has gone up 450 per cent.
"There hasn't been enough public housing being built on public land and people have had enough.
"As the months go on people are starting to realise that it's a much bigger problem.
"The coalition is putting viable solutions together and it's up to the Government to take them on board but so far it hasn't happened."
Alibhe Smyth, activist and co-director of the Together For Yes campaign, also addressed the crowd saying: "This is a profound injustice that is being done to so many people, to families, to single parent families, to young and old.
"We are dealing not just with a crisis but with a tragedy of major proportions and we will not stand for it."