On 5 December thousands of people marched through the streets of Dublin in opposition to the growing housing crisis and increasing homelessness across the country. The middle of the day protest made its way to as close to government buildings, as was possible.
That same week, Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, narrowly survived a motion of no confidence in the Dáil (Irish parliament). In the days that led up to the protest, Dublin City Council gave the go ahead to a new €22 million white-water rafting facility while there are growing numbers sleeping on the streets. Council funds must be used to help put an end to the housing crisis and ensuring real living conditions, for all, as well as being put into affordable community facilities.
The backdrop to this protest is the growing housing crisis in Ireland that is being ignored by the government. Average rents in Dublin are over €2,000 per month, and many people are paying up to half or more of their take home income on rent. The average age to get a mortgage is 39 years old, which means that people are working for 15-20 years to hope to afford a mortgage. The most recent official figures of homelessness (which does not include adult children and their families being forced to live with their parents or people being forced to sleep on someone’s couch) are at 10,514, including 3,000 homeless children.
One solution that the government has given us (in a Dáil in which one third of the TD’s (members of parliament) from the two main parties are land lords!) is Housing Assistance Payments (HAP). In reality, HAP subsidises the incomes of landlords and encourages them to push up rents to unaffordable levels that put hundreds of thousands of families in poverty. The refusal of the government to build public housing has led to a huge reliance on HAP. They must use this money to build public housing instead of using it to benefit their landlord friends. In the 1970’s, the Irish government built 69,000 council homes and this is exactly what we need to stop the housing crisis in Ireland today.
We call for:
- A mass public housing programme now
- Immediate rent controls to link rents to incomes
- An end to evictions- secure housing for all
- Phase out HAP – Build homes with the money instead
As socialists, we recognise housing as a basic human right and that the capitalist class of landlords, bankers, property developers and wealthy TD’s, are profiting from the housing crisis. This is why we need a mass movement of working class action to ensure our demands are met.
Migrants and refugees are not the cause of this crisis, but are being used as a scapegoat. Attacking immigration and refugees receiving Direct Provision will not stop the housing crisis. These attacks seek to divide us and ignores the true culprits of the crisis – the Irish capitalist class. What we need is maximum unity of the working class, including migrants and refugees.
We need the trade union movement, which is still the biggest force of organised workers, to mobilise and help build for the next housing demonstration. Housing campaigners and youth need to work with unions to help build a mass movement through demonstrations, boycotts, resisting evictions and taking strike action. Only united working class action to demand public housing on public land will stop the growing housing crisis.
Housing, just like healthcare, childcare and transport, are all very profitable industries for those at the top, at the expense of working class people. This is why we also call for the nationalisation of these industries, and to take them into public ownership, democratically controlled and managed. In a socialist society, we can ensure good, quality housing, for all, as part of an economy that benefits the lives of the working class, as opposed to making super profits for a small minority, as see today.
(December 17th 2019)