Homeless crisis takes centre stage at Dublin May Day march

It concluded with a rally outside Liberty Hall

Homeless crisis takes centre stage at Dublin May Day march

Campaigners march to Liberty Hall in Dublin to highlight the homeless crisis and other social issues | Image: RollingNews.ie

A march has taken place in Dublin calling for Government action on housing.

This year's annual May Day march focused on the deepening homelessness crisis.

It began from the Garden of Remembrance, and proceeded along O'Connell Street and Eden Quay.

It concluded with a rally outside Liberty Hall in the city.

Activists marched down Dublin's main thoroughfare to chants of "We are young, we will fight, housing is a human right".

The march - organised by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions and the National Homeless and Housing Coalition - included trade union, campaign group and political party elements.

Speakers at the rally included community activist Rita Fagan and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland director Edel McGinley.

President of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, Pat Bolger, said: "The march will highlight the fact that housing is a right not a privilege and that public land should be used to build public housing and not for private profit."

SIPTU Campaigns and Equality Organiser, Karan O' Loughlin, added: "This march will call for a house building plan which will benefit families in need of homes rather than property developers.

"The proposals outlined last week by the Minister for Housing...Simon Coveney are all about subsidising private landlords and developers.

"This is wrong and instead we need a large-scale public housing programme, one that will provide enough homes for the tens of thousands in dire need of decent accommodation."

"More radical measures"

Housing campaigner Fr Peter McVerry also spoke at the rally.

Speaking before the march, he said Government plans to tackle the problem have so far failed, and more effective action is needed.

"This particular year the focus is on housing and homelessness which is acknowledged by everybody, including the Government, to be the most serious social issue facing our country at the moment.

"And the idea is to draw attention to the ineffectiveness of the Government response so far to the problem of housing and homelessness".

"We need to go back to the drawing board, we need to look at other measures and much more radical measures than the Government have contemplated to date".

Recent figures from Focus Ireland show there has been a 35% increase in the number of rough sleepers in Dublin in the past year.

They show 138 people slept on the streets of Dublin on the night of April 4th - the highest ever recorded for that time of year.

While the number is slightly down on the 142 rough sleepers recorded in the last count on November 22nd last year, it marks a significant increase on last April's count of 102 people.