Fórsa representatives were amongst those in attendance at the Raise the Roof housing conference in Dublin last Wednesday (30th January). The event focused on Ireland’s ever-increasing rate of homelessness, particularly the number of families and children currently without a home.
Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ general secretary Patricia King addressed the crowd of about 200 campaigners, union representatives, politicians, community groups, students, housing agencies and members of the public. She recalled the launch of the Congress Charter for Housing Rights this time last year and noted that since then the homelessness figures have increased to practically 10,000 people.
“Twelve months on, there are 1,728 families homeless with 3,811 children in those families,” she said, noting that one additional family becomes homeless every eight hours.
The charter, supported by many unions including Fórsa, outlines five key principles that offer short, medium and long-term solutions to the housing crisis. The first step is to declare a national housing emergency and commence the building of a major public housing programme.
Fórsa lead organiser, Joe O’Connor said trade unions involved in the campaign will be ramping up the political pressure in the coming months. “This conference is just the beginning of a range of planned campaign actions for 2019, including a set of regional rallies alongside the tabling of council motions starting in Cork on 11th March,” he said.
A cross-party motion was passed in the Dáil last October, with the support of all opposition parties including Fianna Fáil. The motion commits to a set of measures which would bring effect to the Congress Charter for Housing Rights, including introducing a legal or constitutional right to housing.
O’Connor emphasised that Fórsa’s goal is to ensure political delivery on this parliamentary commitment, while working under the Raise the Roof umbrella.