I’m delighted to be supporting the #RaiseTheRoof campaign today and commend those involved in organising it. It is about time that we had a huge movement of all those representing everyone affected by the housing and homeless crisis. The emergency has now permeated all sectors of our society (bar the Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil pro-landlord sectors obviously) and it spans all generations from homeless children, to students unable to find appropriate rental accommodation, young professionals forced to live at home for longer due to unaffordable rents, to people unable to save for deposits for mortgages, to families whose mortgages are being sold to vulture funds or struggling with arrears or repossession threats, to older people dependent on Rent Supplement alongside their pensions. I commend the unions, ICTU, USI and others who have mobilised for today’s rally.
Like other Deputies, I have made many suggestions on how this shocking housing and homelessness crisis may be addressed, starting of course, with the declaration of a Housing Emergency. In earlier decades, e.g. all of Dublin County was in effect one housing area and hence the new towns of Tallaght, Clondalkin/Lucan and Blanchardstown were developed for all the people of Dublin. Now the fairly rigid division into four housing administrations has placed Dublin City in particular in a strait jacket. I believe we need a dynamic Housing Executive for all of Dublin and perhaps the whole mid-Leinster region. I also believe that we need a directly elected Mayor of Dublin to hold those Local Authorities to account.
At the end of August there were 3,693 children in homeless accommodation around the country (well of course, this is after Minister Murphy’s Department recategorised 1,606 adults and children out of official homeless figures this year). Over 60% of them are in one parent families, most of these are headed by mothers. Fine Gael is presiding over this generation’s mother and baby homes – that is Minster Eoghan Murphy’s legacy. Let us declare a housing emergency and take real measures to address this crisis and let’s give the Irish electorate a say on whether to enshrine the right to housing in our constitution.