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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 22 January, 2020
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Opinion: 'The Repeal the 8th campaign should inspire the fight against the housing crisis'

Benjamin Moore writes that the Repeal campaign can be a blueprint for fighting back against the current issues around housing and homelessness.

Benjamin Moore

THIS WEEK, THEJOURNAL.ie published a distressing, yet perhaps unsurprising, piece on the current state of the rental market in Dublin.

It reported that the average rent in Dublin is now €500 a month higher than it was during the boom. According to Daft.ie, an Irish property website, the average price of rent across the country as a whole is a staggering €274 more than the peak figure in 2008, just prior to the market crash.

This is simply madness.

Barely a decade on from the calamitous burst of the Irish property bubble, it would appear as though we have already erased from our collective conscious the utter dismay that 2008 heralded for our newfound and short-lived prosperity.

Dublin is at the epicentre of the issue, with the capital city hosting the vast majority of jobs in the Republic, constituting a daytime working population of 512,449 as of 2016. This represents an increase of 9% since 2011.

Not only are those born in Dublin disinclined to leave, but many others, sometimes unwillingly, are abandoning their home towns, counties, friends and families in pursuit of employment in the capital. This influx of people has been increasing year on year as the strength of the Irish economy continues to recover and grow. It does not take an economist to work out that the discrepancies between jobs and adequate accommodation are reaching unsustainable levels.

In limbo

The unsustainability of the rental and housing markets are and will continue to be detrimental to a generation working to rent and perpetually stuck in limbo.

We cannot afford to pay rent and save for a home concurrently, and if we can, we are forced to either live at home or inhabit single bedrooms in a shared property with strangers for several years. Both of these options are not only undesirable, but ultimately damaging to the confidence and mental health of a generation that simply asks to enjoy a life of independence seemingly inaccessible now.

These talking points do not even take into account that there were almost 10,000 homeless people in Ireland as of March 2018, forced to either sleep on the streets or spend weeks at a time in vacant hotel rooms. This is a truly sickening statistic for a developed nation that prides itself on its cultural hospitality.

So what can we do? Resign ourselves to the fact that this is the way the capitalist system works? To keep calm and carry on?

Harness the power of youth

Despite the slew of negative platitudes that are all too often bandied about in describing younger generations – lazy, uninspired, insulated, indifferent, entitled brats unwilling to put in hard work and sacrifice – the youth of Ireland have collectively proven that this is not the case, and when we feel that there is a cause worth fighting for, we are willing to fight for what we believe is right.

There is no better exemplification of our enthusiasm in combating difficult social issues than the removal of the Eighth Amendment from the Irish constitution, passed by an overwhelming majority in the 2018 referendum on abortion.

The combination of grass-roots organisation, fiery rhetoric, and strategic planning of the Repeal the 8th campaign was a monumental display of what can be achieved in our small but rigorous democratic society when the people want to enact real and virulent change to unjust circumstances.

As these things often do, the result will seem like an almost inevitable stride of progress when confined to the annals of history. Yet the progress made by the Repeal the 8th campaign was a slow and arduous march, and did not happen overnight. It took numerous years and a collection of unassailable, dedicated individuals to create a movement so dynamic and all-encompassing that it had become impossible to silence or ignore any longer.

The streets of Dublin and the nation at large quaked under the steps of its marches, the screams of its protestors, and the passion of its convictions.

Blueprint for success

There are already groups such as the Dublin Central Housing Action that have been active since 2015 and follow the Repeal the 8th model, taking to the streets and utilising the power of social media to tap into the frustration of a disenfranchised public.

Their cause is gathering notoriety, one that will need continual fostering and encouragement if its ultimate goal is to be achieved in our lifetime – homes for all.

To effectively tackle the housing and rental crises as with abortion, the onus will once again be on the youth of Ireland to lead the charge and replicate that same impassioned enthusiasm.

Using the campaign to Repeal the 8th as a blueprint for success, we can enact a real and comprehensive revision of our unfair system.

Through protests, campaigning, and an indomitable spirit, we must endeavour to establish a secure future for ourselves, our families, and succeeding generations longing not only for a house, but a home to call their own.

Benjamin Moore blogs at Son of Gotham blog.

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Benjamin Moore

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