Raise the Roof Demonstration 18 May 2019

On Saturday 18 May a major ‘Raise the Roof’ demonstration took place in Dublin. There were some 15,000 – 20,000 participants on the protest, which was joined by participants wanting to challenge the government’s approach to housing and homelessness.

The housing situation in Ireland is a scandal and the strongest evidence that the Fine Gael – Finian McGrath government cares only for landlords and property owners.

When gathered outside the GPO, several speakers addressed the marchers, including Fr Peter McVerry, experienced campaigner on the issue.

Fr Peter McVerry told the crowds the situation was catastrophic, with record levels of rents and rising prices. It was so obvious that the governments housing strategy was not working that even a twelve-year-old could see it. And yet, each time the figures came out and showed a worsening situation, Ministers came out to defend the strategy.

Half a million people have a stressful housing situation (whether overcrowding, poor quality, being forced to stay at home or financial).

McVerry even cited Karl Marx in pointing to the fact that there were people paying over sixty per cent of their wages to a landlord.

Councillor John Lyons said:

This FineGael government wants us all to realise that it will never lead a massive state-led construction programme of public housing.
In order to get the public and affordable housing we so badly need, we’re gonna have to rid ourselves of this Fine Gael – Finian McGrath government.

Niamh McDonald, candidate for Donaghmede added:

We have a vision of Dublin as a “Liveable City”, a city that builds public and affordable housing (and has affordable public transport, becomes a green city, that plays a big role in reversing the affects of climate change, has public well maintained accessible spaces and green areas).

Local Government in Ireland – Fórsa calls for reform

Fórsa, the new trade union formed out of a merger between Impact, the CPSU and the PSEU has heard at its 2019 conference in Kilkenny that Ireland has one of the weakest local government roles in Europe. Research commissioned by the union shows that local government spending here is just 8% of all public spending, compared to the EU average for local government of 23%.

Seán Reid, chair of Fórsa’s Local Government and Local Services division argued that local government reform was a huge issue that had been neglected by TDs who liked to pose as a local ‘fixer’, to assist in their re-election.

Instead of strong, well funded local government with meaningful powers, county managers make what little democracy there is at local level extremely feeble and this has consequences for voter turnout and interest in local elections.

Councillor John Lyons has had five years of experience in battling for increased democracy in Dublin and he is standing in the Artane/Whitehall constituency for the May local elections. Backing Fórsa’s views, he commented:

All Local Election candidates in #LE19 must have the aim and aspiration to radically improve local government in Ireland, currently the weakest of all local governance systems anywhere. If they don’t, then they are merely slotting into the well-worn groves of an utterly dysfunctional system.

Dubliners deserve better.

A liveable city means one with equal access to all

A recent infographic from the Disability Federation shows how the large numbers of people with a disability in Dublin are being failed. In employment, housing and especially in education, the figures tell a clear and grim story, that urgent change is needed.

People in Dublin with a disability are being left behind in education, employment and housing.

Niamh McDonald, Independent Left candidate for Donaghmede LEA said:

Fifteen percent of Dublin’s population have a disability, that is over 81,000 people. Some of those disabilities can be seen others cannot. So far the city of Dublin is catered for those fully able, it needs to change. We need to create a city removes the obstacles that prevents people’s accessibility. We need to see the obstacles being the problem not the people, this should be in full consultation with those to affected by those obstacles #liveablecity

Over 3,800 children homeless is a scandal.

At the end of April the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government released its most recent homeless figures. During March 2019 there were over 3,800 children who were homeless and 2,445 adults. This represents a rise on the same period in 2018 and shows that Fine Gael’s promises (and those of their ‘independent’ allies) to make housing the test of the success of the government to have been merely shadow play.

Niamh McDonald, Independent Left candidate for Donaghmede LEA said:

The majority of those children are from one parent families, those parents are mainly women. These figures are not the entire picture, there are women and children in refuges, the hidden homeless, Direct Provision and many on the streets are not counted.
This is a generation suffering and becoming institutionalised due to no fault of their own.
This can be solved but we need to vote out those who refuse to fix the problem FG, FF & Labour.
Some seem to think if your local FF or FG Cllr gets the road fixed or gets your windows done you should vote them back in, this will not create change, everything will just stay the same.
Its up to the people to change it because the establishment currently elected won’t change as it benefits them to much.