THE Government must be held to account for its failures on housing, health, and the cost of living, a public meeting in Cork heard this week.
The meeting, which called for emergency action on housing in the city, was organised by Socialist Party TD Mick Barry.
100 people gathered in the Metropole Hotel to hear contributions from charity workers, housing campaigners, and from people living in precarious tenancies and from people who are without a home.
Latest official figures show that 11,754 people are living in emergency accommodation, with numbers consistently rising over the past several months, and the Government’s decision to end the temporary ban on evictions on March 31 is expected to lead to a further increase.
Caitriona Twomey, volunteer co-ordinator for Cork Penny Dinners, said government TDs needed to be asked straight questions, and members of the public needed to demand straight answers.
“Why hasn’t everybody got a home? Why can’t everybody put food on their table? Why can’t everybody access health services? Why are there so many waiting lists to see consultants?” Ms Twomey asked.
“Why does the Government think it’s okay to lift the eviction ban and put more people into misery?”
Mick Barry TD said almost 3,000 households nationally had been served with eviction notices since the intention to lift the ban had been announced, and he predicted that at least 10,000 people would be affected once the ban lapses on March 31.
In Cork, he said, more than 1,000 people were facing eviction next month, and he said that the government’s decision to lift the ban on evictions had been cheered on by landlords and vulture funds, even as it struck terror into the hearts of vulnerable families all across Ireland.
Frank O’Connor, who, alongside his partner, Jude Sherry, has campaigned against dereliction in the city, praised the meeting’s organisation and noted that it had been well attended, something he said highlighted the urgency of the need to address Ireland’s housing emergency.
“It’s not being treated as an emergency at the moment, and I think it needs to be treated as an emergency, and we need action now,” Mr O’Connor said.
The government has defended its decision to end the temporary ban on evictions, saying that continuing it would have worsened the situation in the longer term, driving more landlords out of the market and further reducing housing supply.