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'We will not be ignored': Activists to take to the streets again for Dublin housing protest

Today’s demonstration kicks off in Dublin at three different locations at 2pm.

PEOPLE ARE LIVID. People want to come out and express their anger.

Activists, politicians and members of the public are expected to gather in Dublin City Centre this afternoon to participate in another demonstration over Ireland’s housing crisis.

5980 Protests_90555541 (1) Crowds of housing protestors gathered outside government buildings on 30 October Source: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

Since last summer, the country has seen an increase in activists raising awareness over housing issues, as the rental crisis in Ireland deepens and homelessness continues to increase. 

Take Back The City (TBTC) over the summer held numerous protests in Dublin city centre, alongside a range of occupations of properties in the north inner city. 

The National Homeless and Housing Coalition (NHHC), which is made up of trade unions, politicians and campaign groups, made headlines in October, after holding the Raise the Roof rally in Dublin city centre alongside a number of other campaign groups, which saw thousands take to the streets.

Most recently, thousands turned out for a major rally held by NHHC on 1 December in Dublin city. That rally was help to mark the anniversary of Jonathan Corrie, whose body was found in a Dublin doorway on 1 December 2014. His death sparked an increase in action from housing activists across the country. 

Today’s demonstration kicks off in Dublin at three different locations at 2pm.

“There was a real push from the community groups and the grassroots groups that we work with here in Dublin that we needed to do something in Dublin to keep the momentum going because people are livid. People want to come out and express their anger,”  NHHC co-chairperson Tina MacVeigh told TheJournal.ie.

MacVeigh said it will be “hard to say” whether today’s rally will be as large as previous ones. 

Today’s rally will see three separate starting locations. The crowds will then march to a “surprise collection point”. MacVeigh wouldn’t reveal any details about the end location.

8086 Housing protest_90559816 Crowds of protestors during the rally on 1 December Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

MacVeigh hit out at the recent homeless emergency accommodation figures for January, which showed that there are now a combined total of 9,987 people homeless and living in emergency accommodation in Ireland, a significant rise of 234 people from December.

She also criticised the “disgraceful” comments made by Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan last month in which he said people may be reluctant to leave homeless services in Dublin because they are now “an attractive” option. 

“There’s always stuff that’s happening that’s making people really angry because it’s painfully obvious that the government is not shifting and is not doing anything in relation to advancing the solution, which is to build public housing on public land,” she said. 

“People want to vent their anger at this continued reluctance by the government to do what the people want,” MacVeigh said. 

Growing movement

This weekend’s rally will be the first major one since thousands took to the streets on 1 December. 

When asked by TheJournal.ie if she thinks the housing and homelessness grassroots movement could be losing momentum, MacVeigh said: “Take Back The City movement was amazing last summer with the wave of protests that we saw and occupations. A lot of that was driven by a lot of students who have probably gone back into their college life. They’re organising themselves in their colleges.

“While there might not have been the obvious and visible manifestation of the grassroots work on the streets the way we saw last summer, those same groups are now actually in their communities doing the work that we need to do which is to build at a grassroots level.” 

Now, a number of regional demonstrations have been planned nationwide in the lead up to a national rally in May, beginning with today’s in Dublin. 

A Raise the Roof rally is taking place in Cork on Monday evening. MacVeigh said there are plans for rallies in around 12 other cities and towns nationwide over the next month. 

TAKE BACK THE CITY 758A3131_90554594 Take Back The City campaigners on O'Connell Bridge on 22 September Source: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

The Raise the Roof rally in October was held to coincide with a debate in the Dáil on a private members bill on housing drafted and signed by 47 TDs from Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, Solidarity, Social Democrats, Labour, the Green Party, Independents4Change and others.

MacVeigh said today’s rally will highlight that motion which called for “practical measures to be put into place which would at least put a block or a stop to the spiralling out of control of the housing crisis”. 

“The government have not listened and we need to be on the streets to say to the government the people spoke last year, not only on the streets but also through our elected representatives.

“Our voices manifested in that motion, the Dáil voted for it, you are ignoring it. We will not be ignored.”

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