On May Day, activists of the Connolly Youth Movement (CYM) disrupted a meeting of the Fine Gael party in Cork, Ireland, which was attended by prime minister Leo Varadkar and deputy leader Simon Coveney. Protesters claimed that the government’s policies, especially in the housing sector, were destroying the country. The CYM is a youth organization affiliated with the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI).
According to EchoLive.ie, as soon as Leo Varadkar got on the stage, a protester stood up and read out a prepared statement, calling for a minute’s silence for the two men who died in Cork recently. They had both been using homelessness services.
In its statement, the CYM said that it could not allow an event featuring the prime minister to go ahead without raising the issues that Ireland is facing. “Poverty, suicide, emigration, health service crisis, lack of adequate housing, poverty wages, defunding of public services in urban and rural areas, privatization of infrastructure and water, total ineptitude in approaching impending climate change and much more,” they said, listing the issues.
“We call upon all people opposed to the ruthless Blueshirt regime to question them at every opportunity, and never, ever permit them to walk away from the disastrous, inhumane and barbaric policies they continue to introduce against society,” they added.
Meanwhile, in Dublin, activists of the CYM and the CPI took out a May Day rally against the housing crisis. Another rally is scheduled to take place in Belfast on May 4.
Jimmy Doran, member of the national executive committee of the CPI and a trade union spokesperson, told Peoples Dispatch that the theme of this year’s May Day rally was housing. “Public housing must be universally accessible and available to all citizens as a right enshrined in the constitution. These homes must be built by the state and kept in public ownership as a state asset. There must be no economic evictions until such time as the state can offer a suitable alternative,” said Doran.
Dubliners have been staging a series of protests, demanding affordable housing as the crisis escalates in Irish cities. Activists had observed September 23, 2018, as the national day of action to demand strong governmental action to resolve the crisis. Various activist groups had marched and demonstrated as part of the ‘Raise the Roof Campaign’ on October 3, 2018. According to Focus Ireland (a voluntary organization that caters to the needs of homeless people), the current spike in homelessness is caused by structural economic factors, including low wages, underemployment, unemployment and lack of government initiatives for public housing.
A mass national housing rally is scheduled for May 18 in Dublin.