Wednesday 19 September 2018

Thousands march to demand Government action to solve the national housing crisis

Thousands, including many families, took to the streets to protest at the homeless crisis, with over 10,000 people now living in emergency accommodation. Photo: Mark Condren
Thousands, including many families, took to the streets to protest at the homeless crisis, with over 10,000 people now living in emergency accommodation. Photo: Mark Condren

Alan O'Keeffe

Thousands of people marched through Dublin city centre yesterday demanding Government action to end the homeless crisis.

Groups from around Ireland brought their banners to the national demonstration organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition.

The coalition is supported by charities, trade unions, Traveller support groups, as well as People Before Profit Alliance, Sinn Fein, and the Social Democrats.

The protesters marched from the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square to the quays before gathering outside the Custom House. Traffic diversions were in place for more than an hour.

Dublin Lord Mayor Micheal Mac Donncha helped carry a banner at the front of the march.

He said thousands of people in Ireland were "being denied their basic human right to a home".

Damien Dempsey sang at the demonstration in Dublin city centre. Photo: Mark Condren
Damien Dempsey sang at the demonstration in Dublin city centre. Photo: Mark Condren

There needed to be "a sea change" in Government policy, he said.

Marching with his charity's banner, St Vincent de Paul national president Kieran Stafford said he knew a family with three children that had lived in a hotel room for two years.

"The crisis is utterly appalling for those living without a home. We are adding our voices to calls to the Government to solve the crisis," he said.

Navan mother-of-one Tracey Hanby (41) was among a platform of speakers demanding action.

She said she had been in arrears in her mortgage and would be made homeless by a bank shortly.

She felt the homeless crisis in Ireland "has become a monster", she said.

Homeless charity director Fr Peter McVerry said voters must demand more effective Government action to help the homeless.

Bridget Casey of the Irish Travellers Movement said the health of many traveller families was in grave danger because of over-crowding and a lack of facilities at halting sites. New halting sites were needed with proper facilities, she said.

Seamus Healy TD, of Workers and Unemployed Action, called for the Government to declare a housing emergency and begin a massive social housing construction programme.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, speaking earlier, said people's patience had run out.

She criticised Fianna Fail's support for a failed Fine Gael housing policy.

Anthony Flynn, chief executive of the Inner City Helping Homeless charity, said: "With near 10,000 now living in emergency accommodation, we need radical change within the system."

He said Minister Eoghan Murphy's response to date was far from what was expected to tackle the crisis.

"We have a national emergency and the Government are failing to deal with that emergency," he said.

"Homelessness is the biggest crisis to hit us as a society, people need homes and the Government needs to provide them," he said.

Musician Damien Dempsey sang from the platform.

Sunday Independent

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