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Major Civil Society Groups to Stage National Housing Rally on May 18

Date Released: 25 April 2019

Trade unions, student unions, women’s groups, community organisations, political parties and housing agencies are to stage a major national rally on the housing crisis under the banner of Raise the Roof, in Dublin on Saturday May 18.

The May 18 national rally was formally launched today (April 25) by members of the Raise the Roof campaign platform, including: the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Union of Students in Ireland, the National Women’s Council, Siptu and also Fr Peter McVerry.

Speaking at the launch, Mandate General Secretary and ICTU Executive Council member John Douglas said: “We will be calling on all trade union members to support this rally on May 18 to help us push for a radical and dramatic change in housing policy. Last October, with the support of Raise the Roof, the Dáil passed a motion calling for a major investment in public housing provision, action on rent certainty and security of tenure plus the creation of a legal right to housing. 

“The motion was supported by a majority of TDs and political parties along with the wide range of trade union and civil society groups involved in Raise the Roof. It needs to be implemented without delay, to help bring this emergency to an end.”

 Michelle Byrne, Vice President of USI said: "This month we saw the government bring amendments to legislation that would include purpose built student accommodation under the rent pressure zone legislation and give students more rights. This comes after we have already heard of rent hikes of 10% in college owned accommodation in UCC and in private accommodation in Galway. We need to keep the pressure on to ensure this legislation gets through. It's been a year since this was promised and we cannot wait any longer."

Laura Harmon, Women in Leadership Coordinator, National Women’s Council of Ireland, said: “With some of the highest rates of female homelessness in Europe, this emergency is having a particularly devastating impact on lone-parent families, the majority of whom are led by women. Furthermore, because official figures do not include the many women and children in domestic violence refuges or direct provision centres, it is likely that they do not capture the full extent of the problem for women.

‘‘Rather than put real investment into public housing and affordable homes, the government funds an increasing number of Family Hubs, which afford little dignity to their inhabitants. We must reject these as a permanent solution and not subject another generation of women and children to institutional violence and exclusion,” she concluded.

Fr Peter McVerry said: “The number of homeless people across the country is closer to 15,000 than the 10,000 reported recently and as things stand that figure is only going to increase. The root cause of this problem lies with the failure to build public housing. Instead, we funnel some €2 million per day to private landlords in HAP payments….that is simply not sustainable.”

Michael Taft of Siptu said: “New figures show that housing costs - purchase prices and rents - have now detached completely from the ‘real economy’. As such, it will require a major state intervention in terms of the provision of affordable homes and action on affordable rents to restore some semblance of sanity and reality to the housing market.”

The Raise the Roof national housing rally takes place on Saturday May 18 in Dublin and will see trade unions, political parties, women’s groups, student unions, housing agencies and community groups join forces to demand radical action on the housing crisis.

Raise the Roof includes the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), the National Women’s Council (NWCI), the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), the National Homeless & Housing Coalition (NHHC) and a range of housing agencies and community groups.


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