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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Thousands take to Dublin streets to highlight housing crisis

Thousands of people have taken part in a protest in Dublin to highlight the country’s housing crisis, with demonstrators calling for immediate action from the Government to address the shortage of housing.

he rally was organised by Raise the Roof, a campaign group made up of trade unions, advocacy groups, homelessness agencies and student unions and political parties.

The rally started at Parnell Square and made its way to Government Buildings where a number of speeches were made.

Thousands of people of all ages filled Merrion Square South.

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A woman takes part in a Raise the Roof rally in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

Pensioners and elderly couples joined students and young families to urge the Government to take action.

A stage was erected close to Government Buildings where a number of speakers from unions and campaign groups addressed the crowd.

Opposition parties including Sinn Fein, People Before Profit, Labour and the Social Democrats also took part.

Speakers included INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha, Louise Bayliss from Focus Ireland, housing expert Dr Rory Hearne and representatives from asylum seekers’ groups.

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Pensioners and elderly couples joined students and young families at the rally (Niall Carson/PA)

Actor Liam Cunningham was among those leading the march to Government Buildings.

Mr Cunningham told the PA news agency: “I am sick and tired of foreign investment and vulture funds, and what was known as absentee landlords when I was young and growing up, that the revolutionaries in this country took 800 years to remove, and this government and the previous government have invited back in.

“These people are for profit. They don’t have a soul, they don’t have a heart and the people who live in this country are suffering because of it.”

Dr Hearne demanded an immediate change in the Government’s housing policy.

“This crisis is not caused by those who are homeless. It is not caused by millennials eating too much avocado (on) toast. It is not caused by the refugees. It is not caused by inflation,” Dr Hearne told the crowd.

“This housing crisis was caused by government policy which year after year after year refused to freeze rents, refused to build social housing, refused to tackle dereliction and vacancy, refused to put the money that was needed into it.

“It’s time for change and that is starting today.”

Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny told RTE’s Saturday With Katie Hannon that the Government’s housing policies are not working.

He said that the Government is missing its housing targets and that is what is driving people on to the streets to protest.

Figures show there were 11,397 people recorded as homeless in Ireland last month, according to the Government’s official tally.

This includes 3,480 children and 1,601 families.

It marked the fourth consecutive month where the Department of Housing’s figures have increased to a record high.

There was an increase of 422 people in one month to October, from 10,975 people recorded as homeless in September.

Housing charity Focus Ireland said the figures represented a 29% rise in the number of people homeless in 12 months, up from 8,830 people recorded as homeless in October last year.

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