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'We want to send a clear message': Thousands expected to take part in Dublin housing protest today

Today’s protest coincides with the anniversary of Jonathan Corrie who died near the Dáil four years ago.
Dec 1st 2018, 7:31 AM 13,007 30
“WE WANT TO send the government a clear message.” 

Thousands of people are expected to gather in Dublin City Centre this afternoon to participate in the latest demonstration over Ireland’s housing crisis.

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

Since the 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. 

Over the past number of months, Take Back The City (TBTC) 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.

Two weeks ago, it held a day of action in which it called on local grassroots groups around the country to highlight the crisis ahead of today. 

A demonstration is due to kick off at the Garden of Remembrance at 2pm today with the aim of putting pressure on the government to take further action in tackling the housing crisis. 

“It’s a reminder to the government that we’re not going away,” NHHC co-chairperson Tina McVeigh told TheJournal.ie.

She added that the group wishes to remind the government of “what our demands are”. 

NHHC is calling on the government to implement legislation immediately that would make it illegal to evict people into homelessness. It’s also calling for the investment into capital funding for the construction of public housing. 

“We think if the government at least embarked on those two demands then we would begin to see some shift in the flow into homelessness,” McVeigh said. 

Thousands of people gathered outside the Dáil on 3 October for the Raise the Roof rally.

002 Raise the Roof protest_90555532 Protesters during the Raise the Roof rally in October Source: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

Today, McVeigh hopes to see a similar, if not larger, turnout.

“We’re expecting a huge crowd. We’re seeing more and more groups all the time approaching us. We’re hoping to see a real mixture of the different regions and different people and groups that are affected,” McVeigh said. 

It’s really important that we continue to grow the mass grassroots movement on housing. It’s really important that people come out. It’s really, really important. 

Figures released earlier this week show that there were 9,724 people living in emergency accommodation during the period recorded in October. 

Commenting on the figures, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said that “there are still too many families and children experiencing this crisis”. 

Noting that a further 70 families in Dublin exited emergency accommodation in October, Murphy said: “This is important progress for these families, but we still continue to face a serious challenge and we have to do more. 

“Additional funding for family hubs and more social housing will help, and I continue to engage with the chief executives in the four Dublin local authorities to increase the number of successful outcomes in terms of preventing homelessness and moving families out of hotels.” 

Why today? 

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.

The protest today is being held to mark the anniversary of Jonathan Corrie. 

The body of 43-year-old Jonathan Corrie was found in a Dublin doorway on 1 December 2014. His death sparked an increase in action from housing activists around the country.

“If you remember back to four years ago and within that time, in those four years, homelessness trebled,” McVeigh said. 

“The thing that was very, very important about Jonathan’s death, all death’s are important … but his particularly resonated with people because he died a number of metres away from the gates of Dáil Éireann,” she said. 

Criticising government policies regarding housing since Corrie’s death, and the latest Budget, McVeigh said: “This is a government policy-led crisis, it’s not a natural disaster. This didn’t happen by accident, it is no accident.

We want to send the government a clear message and a reminder that we reject the landlord’s Budget. We don’t agree with your policy.

“We’re coming back out onto the streets on the anniversary of Jonathan Corrie’s death to remind them that this is not working.”

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Hayley Halpin

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