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Protesters at the anti eviction protest outside Leinster House this afternoon. Leah Farrell/

Protesters gather outside Leinster House calling for eviction ban to be reinstated

The protest, organised by the Cost of Living Coalition, began at 1pm on Kildare Street.

PROTESTERS HAVE GATHERED outside Leinster House this afternoon calling on the Government to reinstate the eviction ban, which lapsed at midnight last night.

The demonstration, organised by the Cost of Living Coalition, began at 1pm on Kildare Street.

The Government agreed to end the ban earlier this month, despite outcry from opposition parties and housing organisations.

There have been concerns that ending the ban will lead to a spike in homelessness figures, with Government ministers previously admitting that it may lead to an increase in the short term.

In figures published yesterday, the Department of Housing announced that there were 11,742 people accessing emergency accommodation across the State in February.

It was the first time in eight months that the number of people accessing emergency accommodation had dropped, but it only fell by 12 compared to January.

Carrying signs reading “rent control now”, the crowd of demonstrators outside Leinster House called for “homes for people, not for profit”.

Disability and homelessness campaigner Kayleigh McKevitt said the rises in cost of living and housing prices have had a serious impact on her mental well-being.

disability-campaigner-kayleigh-mckevitt-speaking-to-the-crowd-taking-part-in-a-cost-of-living-demonstration-outside-dail-eireann-dublin-picture-date-saturday-april-1-2023 Disability campaigner Kayleigh McKevitt speaking to the crowd at the demonstration. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

“I knew from the get-go when I moved into independent living that I would have to be financially smart because as a person with a disability on disability allowance we don’t get very much,” she said.

“Even being financially smart isn’t cutting it any more. I can’t buy a full weekly shop because I can’t afford it.”

‘When is this going to stop?’

McKevitt added: “This Government is sending me further into depression.”

She also questioned the Government’s will to help the most vulnerable.

“When is this going to stop? Why does it have to keep falling on people who haven’t got the resources to change it for themselves?” she asked.

A number of TDs also attended the protest, including Labour leader Ivana Bacik, Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett and Independent TD Joan Collins.

Addressing those gathered at the protest, O’Reilly spoke about her own experience of homelessness.

“I don’t know if anyone in the Government was ever evicted into homelessness, but I was,” she said.

“It was absolutely rotten and I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed because I couldn’t provide a house. I felt ashamed.

“When I think about that now, and I think about people who are facing eviction and facing homelessness, they should not feel any shame. The shame is not theirs. The shame is the Government’s. The shame is the independent’s who supported them. They are the ones who should hang their heads in shame for what they have done.”

Several opposition TDs have slammed the government in media appearances today, with Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin saying that housing charities are united in their opposition to the end of the eviction ban.

“The new argument is that the eviction ban is making things worse. That’s what the Minister is saying,” he said, referring to Housing minister Darragh O’Brien.

“The only people who have this view, are the government. Threshold don’t agree with them, DePaul Trust don’t agree with them, Father Peter McVerry Trust don’t agree with them and we just heard from Sister Stan.”

The TD had appeared on RTÉ’s Saturday with Dearbhail McDonald where Focus Ireland founder, Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, said it was shocking that children might be raised in B&Bs or homeless hostels as a result of evictions. 

Ó Ríordáin continued: “The only entity in the entirety of the debate around housing and homelessness, who thinks that the eviction ban was making things worse is the government.”

’1,800 live tenancy termination cases’

Speaking on Newstalk’s The Anton Savage Show this morning, CEO of Threshold John-Mark McCafferty said the housing charity is working with up to 480 people who are facing a termination of their tenancy following the ending of the ban.

“What we’re dealing with is a number of cases that came up over the last number of months with people worried about losing their home, but also historic cases where tenancy termination was flagged by a landlord say in September or October, they’ve been held or paused during the eviction ban, they now come into play,” he said.

“In fact, what we have is almost 1,800 live cases of termination, either that were supposed to happen before now or that will happen in the future. When I say cases, these are people, these are families. They are renters that have come to us.”

McCafferty said it was “very hard” to know how many of those 1,800 have somewhere else to go.

974Anti Eviction Protests (1) June Maher from Bray with protesters at the demonstration. Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

“Our worry is that for a large share of that 1,800, they wouldn’t have anywhere else to go because the market is so restricted in terms of alternative housing,” he said.

“Certainly four or five years ago, prior to Covid, there were options for people in the market. But the problem now is the number of landlords selling and leaving the market coupled with the abject lack of supply coming through in terms of the private rented sector.”

Speaking on the same programme, Boyd Barrett said that the lack of emergency accommodation available means people will have to sleep in their car or on the street.

“We are facing hundreds of people who will be evicted or have the potential to be evicted this month, hundreds more next month, hundreds more after that, and thousands over the next period,” he said.

“Because there’s [no emergency accommodation] available now, some will actually end up on the street and in their car, and that is increasingly a phenomenon, or in shockingly overcrowded situations with two and sometimes three generations of a family crammed into overcrowded situations because they have nowhere else to go.

“We always said [the eviction ban] was a way of stopping the situation from getting worse. Of course, the solution is for the State to build on a large scale, public and affordable housing.”

A report by the Simon Community published earlier this week found that only 29 properties were available to rent for people accessing the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) over the last month – the lowest since the charity began recording the numbers in 2015.

Boyd Barrett said that having looked on property websites and, he found only one property that was within the limits of HAP in South Dublin.

“Everything else that was available was way in excess of the HAP limits. Now that means that the people who are affected by the housing crisis who are competing with hundreds of people who are facing eviction, thousands over the next few months, when they are told by the local authority… ‘go and look, here’s your HAP thresholds’, and there is nothing out there available, you’re goosed.”

He added that it was the “standard across Europe” for landlords to sell properties with a tenant in situ, something that he said “has to happen” in Ireland.

“You can’t have a situation where that number of people have constant insecurity, the constant possibility of being evicted hanging over their head, and even more so in a situation where property prices are so high, they’re out of the reach of the vast majority of working people, and where the delivery of social and affordable housing by the State itself is at such pathetically low levels and is not likely to reach the levels necessary, well, in the foreseeable future.”

Additional reporting from Jamie McCarron and the Press Association

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