5 reasons to march on 5 December

By Manus Lenihan

60,000 people have joined the Facebook group “Protest Against Homelessness in Ireland,” pledging to march on December 5th, 12pm at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin. Here’s why you should join the protest.

  1.     Because the scenes of misery on our streets are getting worse by the day.

Kids are queuing in their school uniforms for their dinners in the freezing cold, eating their meals off cardboard. Volunteer food kitchens are just about staving off hunger. Recently two rough sleepers died in a single week; one was murdered.

The government repeat the mantra that “the supports are there.” The rest of us know that young people with small children are queuing in the cold for food.

  1.     Because the government is not on our side.

Housing ministers keep on coming up with terrible plans, then failing to meet their own useless targets. Developers take advantage of the “fast-track” scheme but don’t even start building. The plan to build modular homes only reached one-third of its target. The latest hare-brained scheme is to let builders squeeze more, smaller apartments into one building.

We need to protest because the government & major political parties don’t care about solving homelessness. For them 10,400 living on the streets or in emergency accommodation is business as usual; the most important thing is that developers and landlords amass enormous profits at our expense.

  1.     Because we need real opposition.

The Greens, Social Democrats and Labour voted on Dublin City Council to put new homes in O’Devaney Gardens way out of the price range of low- and middle-income workers by handing public land over to a private developer. One big march will achieve more than a hundred such rotten deals.

Right-wing politicians like Noel Grealish are shamefully trying to scapegoat migrants and asylum seekers. Migrants and non-migrants should not be in competition for the scare resources capitalism provides. We need homes for all, not racist division.

  1.     Because we could end homelessness now.

The private sector isn’t delivering – so let’s build public housing. We have vacant buildings. We have the land, only the politicians keep selling it off to private developers. We have the money, only they waste it subsidising the rich through HAP and emergency accommodation. We also need to bring in real rent controls, reduce them to affordable levels and ban evictions into homelessness.

If a protest movement can put serious housing demands on the political agenda, then the developers, the major landlords and the investment funds will not have a happy new year.

  1.     Because this could kick the housing movement onto a new level.

The trade unions must mobilise to make sure this is a mass protest. This demonstration could potentially be a springboard to organise a new movement similar to the one that defeated water charges.

If there is a hell, then there is a special part of it for those who get rich through a game that leaves children homeless. There would be another spot reserved for their political sock-puppets who repeat “Supports are in place, supports are in place” while the rich get richer and the misery mounts on the street. But punishment in an unlikely afterlife will not deliver homes here and now. Instead let’s punish them on the streets on 5 December.

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