Irish housing rights group demands ban on evictions during COVID-19 crisis

A Day of Action was observed on June 17 on the call of the Community Action Tenants Union of Ireland. The COVID-19 lockdown has worsened the plight of tenants and homeless people in Irish cities

June 18, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Irish housing rights

On June 17, Wednesday, Irish housing rights union Community Action Tenants Union of Ireland (CATU-Ireland) organized a Day of Action, both online and on the streets, demanding a ban on evictions until January 2021. The union also demanded the cancellation of rent debt accrued by tenant families during the COVID-19 crisis period. CATU has also called for mobilizations on June 20 under the leadership of its local committees at  Phibsboro-Glasnevin, Crumlin & Drimnagh, Mountjoy & Dorset St. and Inchicore & Kilmainham.

Irish cities, particularly Dublin, have been reeling under a severe housing crisis for the past four years. The crisis has been characterized by flatlining property prices, soaring rents, forced evictions and rising homelessness. The housing policies of the Irish government have been vehemently opposed by the various tenants’ and housing rights groups across the country.

Various housing rights groups and tenant’s unions in Ireland have been running the Raise the Roof Campaign to demand a pro-people housing policy from the government, and a solution to the worsening housing crisis and homelessness in the country. Youth groups, including the Connolly Youth Movement, have actively participated in the movement. Political parties like Sinn Fein have also sought parliamentary interventions into the housing problem.

With the establishment parties in Ireland agreeing on the formation of a coalition government, rights groups are skeptical of any radical initiatives or pro-people policies on housing. 

Sinn Fein has said that the “new Fianna Fail-Fine Gael led government cannot be trusted to build affordable homes. Their record over the last four years is proof of that.”

Jimmy Doran of the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) earlier told Peoples Dispatch, “on housing, Fianna Fail-Fine Gael proposes ‘social housing’ which gives profits to private builders and speculators instead of public housing which removes the profit element by being built by local authorities directly. They propose a cost rental model that links rents to the cost of building and maintaining the property rather than differential rents which links rent to income. They continue the practice of selling state-owned public housing to tenants, which takes assets directly from the state and transfers it into private hands.”