Hundreds attend anti-homelessness march in Dublin demanding a state of emergency be called

Social Democrats Co-Founder TD Catherine Murphy says the situation is 'just not acceptible'.

Protest, housing, homeless, national emergency, SIPTU, IMPCT, Custom House, Karan O'Loughlin

A protest which marched from the GPO to Leinster House in Dublin last December | Image:

A mass protest took place in Dublin city today to highlight the need for government action to tackle homelessness.

Hundreds of people marched to demand that a national housing emergency be declared by the Government, which would allow the government to access special EU funding to invest in housing.

The demonstration was organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition, comprising over 30 groups including the Peter McVerry Trust, Focus Ireland and Dublin Simon. As well as homelessness, they demanded  rent supplement rates be increased, evictions be halted and increased protections be brought in for tenants. 

Social Democrats Co-Founder TD Catherine Murphy, says the government needs to take action to prevent the homeless and housing crisis from worsening:

"There are things that you have to intervene in the market for, that are societal goods. The right to housing is one of those. The very large number of children effected by this, is a powder keg for those children and those families and for society into the future and its just not acceptable."

The crowd gathered outside the Department of the Environment offices at the Custom House at 2pm before marching to the GPO.

Martin Collins, co-director of Pavee Point told the Irish Times that Travelers are among the worst affected by 'unsuitable, inadequate housing'  while Fr Peter McVerry asked why the former Ormond Hotel, which has been desolate for a decade, could not be reopened and refurbished to house homeless people.

The rally was also supported by trade unions SIPTU and IMPACT

IMPACT spokesman Joe O'Connor says the Government needs to take a new approach.

"Clearly, what we've been doing up until to now has not been able to secure affordability and security of tenure within the rental market in Ireland.

"Both to resolve the current crisis, and also to ensure a more stable situation for people into the future, that is the type of intervention that we now need."

There are around 6,000 homeless people in Ireland, including 2,000 children - and the Government's own Housing Agency has reported that there are approximately 230,000 vacant houses across the state.

Homeless charities have called on the Government to declare a national emergency, and to compulsorily purchase some of these vacant houses, as is done with motorways and other infrastructure.

SIPTU national campaigns and equality organiser, Karan O'Loughlin, says they want it declared a national emergency.

"When you declare it as an emergency situation, that frees the Government to act faster," she said.

"They have plans in the system for 35,000 housing units over the next five years - that's still inadequate in our view.

"If you were to really, really grapple with the problem it would take a whole raft of other measures - you'd need to be building about 10,000 units every year for the next nine or 10 years.

"The problem is so big, and at such a crisis level that unfortunately even though (Minister Simon Coveney's) efforts are well-meant, it's just not going to be enough."