Thousands of people marched in Dublin, Ireland, under the banner ‘Raise the Roof’ on Saturday, November 26, calling for urgent government action to tackle the soaring housing crisis across the country. Activists from housing rights groups, trade unions, community organizations, and political parties including Sinn Fein, People Before Profit, Communist Party of Ireland, and Workers Party of Ireland participated in the march. They demanded a new policy which ensures dignified housing for all by providing homes at affordable prices and rents. They also called for stopping evictions, especially in the winter, and to ensure security for tenants.
Irish cities, particularly Dublin, have been reeling under a severe housing crisis for the past four years. This crisis has been made worse by the soaring inflation of the past year which has significantly affected people’s capacity to pay high rents and energy bills. Amid this crisis, people in Ireland have been faced with soaring rents and an increase in forced evictions. As a result, the rate of homelessness in the country has also increased. A report by Simon Communities of Ireland stated that from September 2021 to September 2022, there was a registered 29.5% increase in the number of men, women and children in homeless emergency accommodation.
For the past several years, tenant and housing rights groups such as the Raise the Roof campaign have organized massive mobilizations and campaigns all over the country demanding dignified housing. Organizations such as the Community Action Tenants Union (CATU) and the Connolly Youth Movement (CYM) have also resisted bids for forced evictions by landlords, organized protests, and occupied uninhabited buildings to provide shelter for homeless people in major cities across Ireland.
Paul Gavan, MP from Sinn Fein, told Peoples Dispatch on November 27, “the government must recognize an emergency in housing and take immediate measures to ban rent increases, convert vacant houses to homes, and fast track delivery of modular housing. Above all, the government needs to double capital expenditure with a focus on building public housing on public land.”
“The demonstration came just one day after a new record number of homeless people was announced – 11,397, a figure that does not include another 5,000 citizens in direct provision who have been granted the right to remain in Ireland, but also remain homeless. As Christmas 2022 approaches, Ireland has record rents, record house prices and record levels of homelessness. As a result the specter of emigration has returned with many young people feeling they have no choice but to leave the country rather than be trapped in impossibly expensive accommodation or stuck living with their parents well into their thirties,” he said.
Graham Harrington, International Secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland, said to Peoples Dispatch on November 27, “The Irish housing disaster is a result of the Irish state’s policies working as designed. Homes have been commodified and turned into an investment asset. The result is mass homelessness, sky-high rents, as many evictions now as there was in the Famine years and one of the highest levels of vacant housing units in the world, all to ensure a bonanza in profits for landlords.”
“The people have taken to organizing themselves, taking the political offensive against the capital. The solution is universal public housing, with rents linked to income. The re-conquest of the basic means of life,” he added.