GSG 09-19 Raise the Roof Campaign – National Rally, Dublin
On Saturday, 18th May at 1:00 p.m., a National Rally in support of homes for all will be held in Dublin.
The Rally is being organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, almost all of the homeless charities in the country, the Union of Students in Ireland, and a broad selection of political activists. This campaign has been ongoing for some time and numerous demonstrations have taken place in Dublin, Cork and Galway, which ultimately resulted in forcing politicians in Dáil Éireann to pass legislation to deal with the housing emergency in this country.
Unfortunately, the present government supported by various Independents and by their coalition partners, Fianna Fáil, have refused to honour that vote and have continued to pursue policies which have made a bad situation worse and, in the process, has made our landlords and developers extremely wealthy. At this stage, the government has had a myriad of unsuccessful plans and the only records they create are the record numbers of people who now find themselves without a proper home. This emergency affects almost every element of society while its most visible element is the homeless people living and dying on our streets. This emergency ultimately affects us all.
It is worth visiting the areas of society which are impacted most by this emergency.
- The Homeless: these people are the most visible sign of this man-made emergency which is evident in almost every city throughout the country. Barely a week goes by when a death does not take place, a regular occurrence that is usually followed by mealy mouthed comments from politicians. Many of these people are victims of the financial crash and pay the price, while the bankers and the wealthy do not.
- Families: it is now a common occurrence for families with young children to be evicted from their homes. Evictions are generally followed by having to live in B&B’s, hotel rooms, to name but a few. It is also evident that the mental and physical health of children in these circumstances are irreparably damaged as they attempt to live a normal life away from their friends and schools, while their parents attempt to raise them in one room. The fact that this government has put thousands of children and their families through such an experience shows how little they really care.
- Children: it has now become almost the norm for ‘adult children’ to either remain with their parents or move back in with their parents, as the cost of rental properties goes beyond the reach of ordinary people. This again sows the seeds for many social problems, as people are not allowed to develop as individuals and live in their own homes.
- Students: given the ever-increasing cost of education it is becoming more difficult for people to send their children to Third Level Education. It is now becoming almost impossible for parents to source accommodation for those children, while they go through that education phase. As a result, families are incurring debt in order to find accommodation and it is now the norm for thousands of students to ‘couch surf’ in friends’ accommodation. Of course, this is not an issue for the wealthy who have ensured they are immune from such societal problems.
- The Elderly: It is now becoming prevalent for elderly and retired people to be forced out of rented accommodation, as landlords use excuses such as redevelopment and redecoration in order to hike up rent to the levels they know they can achieve, due to the overwhelming shortage of accommodation. This leaves those unfortunate people in a position where they have to compete for accommodation through the Local Authorities, in circumstances where the accommodation is just not available. Citizens who have worked all their lives for this state, find themselves in their retirement years with no home to call their own.
- The Economy: Given that we are being governed by capitalist politicians one would assume that they would be concerned about the impact of this on the economy even when they are obviously not concerned about the impact on our citizens. Nevertheless, the International firms who wish to invest in Ireland, are now being put off by the lack and price of accommodation in our cities and also the social stain on our cities with the homeless situation.
Dublin has become one of the most expensive cities for renting homes in the world. International vulture funds are now flocking to Ireland to build and buy rental property as the profit-taking is now higher in that market than it is in the US.
Of course, this is a multi-faceted problem but there are obvious solutions which have been consistently ignored by government. The first thing we need to do is insist that every County Council in the country reverts to the tradition of building public housing. This housing model in the past provided young working families with a home that was affordable with only one member of that family working. The government has tried almost everything else but the building of public housing, as its political ideology denies any solution that involves the public investment for public good. There is also a serious need for legislation to protect tenants so that people who rent have some chance of that home being permanent, but with a political party full of landlords it is highly unlikely they will do anything to damage this lucrative income stream by supporting such legislation.
The one thing we know from our key involvement in the Irish Water movement, is that the government is susceptible to pressure, particularly with a General Election on the horizon. If you or yours are not affected today by this housing emergency, there is no doubt that somebody in your family or your community will be badly affected if in the future.
The option for you as an individual through your Branch and your Union is to come and support all these groups and to put pressure on the government to take the actions that will resolve this emergency. I realise that people will always have commitments, but you would have to ask is there any commitment more important than the commitment we make to our children and our grandchildren to ensure the opportunity to have a roof over their head.
We will assemble at the Hugh Lane Gallery, Parnell Square North, Dublin 1 at approximately 12:45 p.m. with the march due to commence sometime shortly after 1:00 p.m. We will be easily identifiable in our blue jackets with our blue banners! If you care, and if you want to make a difference, I would like to think that I will see you there.
I would therefore urge every Branch activist in the country to do what they can to encourage as many people as possible to attend this important demonstration.