Saturday, September 24, 2005

Dublin Rally: The Aftermath!

After a very successful rally that was held on Saturday 17th September that was attended by around 300 people, the first homeless organising street meeting was held at St. Stephens Green Bandstand.

This was a new concept whereby homeless people came together to organise future activities in the Street Seen 'No More Deaths On Our Streets' campaign. This was a new concept in so far that, for once, people directly affected by homelessness had a vehicle to communicate and organise...So far we have had 3 street meetings and will be holding them regularly

The Homeless Are Revolting!! Come Join Them..!!

It was decided that we had to raise the profile of our activities publically, loudly and target directly the decision makers that have created the conditions that confines so many people to Irelands Streets.

Our group has been invited to address the Dublin Housing Commitee meeting that will be held on Monday 26th September. Imagine that, Homeless people actually communicating directly our concerns and demands for better funding of existing services and more funds to be made available to develop real solutions!! Whatever next, they might listen!!!

Simple solutions for Complex Problems...

On Tuesday 27th September Street Seen will be holding a Solidarity Sleep Out in front of the Dail (Parliament) as it reopens from another of their long breaks. We intend to be the first people those TDs (MPs) have to face at the Dail as they come back from their holidays...We will keep this campaign to the forefront of their mind.

No more passive support we want Active Support!

On Monday 3rd October an Emergency motion is to be submitted on our behalf to Dublin City Council meeting October 3rd on behalf of Sinn Fein Group that we expect and demand cross party support..'

That this City Council calls on the government to refrain from selling the former UCD Veterinary College, Dublin 4 and instead allocate it to Dublin City Council with a view to alleviating the housing crisis in the city

The Government is to announce shortly that it is to sell the former UCD Veterinary College which stands on a site of 2.1 acres fronting on to both Pembroke Road and Shelbourne Road. It is likely to make over €100 million.
Further Details:

Street Seen, Irish Anti-Poverty paper has now been recognised by the Dublin City Council Community Forums as the official voice of Dublins Homeless Community. We intend to make that voice heard loudly and clearly!!

We have gathered up amazing support for our campaign and this is only the start....

Monday, September 19, 2005

Some recent Press Coverage Of Street Seen Rally

Continually updated Link @ Indymedia:

Irish Times:

Anti-homelessness campaigners will stage a rally in Dublin tomorrow following the death of three people sleeping rough in the city last week.A number of homeless people are due to speak at the event, which is being advertised in hostels and other emergency accommodation typically used by the homeless.

Mark Grehan of organisers Street Seen said it expected several hundred people at the event, "including a very big turnout from the homeless community" .The move follows the death of two adults and a 17-year-old youth in a 48-hour period last week, the latter having suffered a drug overdose.

Anti-homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry said: "Our failure to eliminate homelessness, in this the second wealthiest country in the world, is nothing short of a scandal. "Homelessness and housing waiting lists both doubled during the 'Celtic Tiger' years when this country had more money than we knew what to do with - but giving some of it to the poor was not a choice that we were willing to make."I would encourage everyone to attend Saturday's event to show solidarity with our homeless community."

The protest will take place at 2pm at the Central Bank on Dame Street. Independent TD Finian McGrath and Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins are due to speak at the event, while Labour and Sinn Féin have also pledged their support, according to the organisers. Mr Grehan said more people would die on the streets unless action was taken. "It's only September. The weather is going to get worse," he warned, adding: "Current Government ministers are much more willing to give themselves another massive pay increase than to divert proper resources to address the issue of homelessness in Ireland. "

He said the organisers planned to hold a "street meeting" after the rally for the homeless community to give it a chance "to speak for itself".People attending the protest on Saturday have been asked to bring along "spare sleeping bags, blankets and non-perishable foodstuffs for distribution to those in need"

.A 2004 survey conducted by homeless organisations in Dublin city, and co-ordinated by the Homeless Agency, indicated that some 237 people slept rough in Dublin city centre on a regular basis, and close to 100 slept on the streets every night of the week.

Daily Ireland:

Anti Poverty Campaigners have urged the public to a attend rally in Dublin this weekend to highlight the plight of those forced to sleep rough. Three homeless people died on the streets on Dublin in recent weeks. Campaigners say a chronic housing shortage and a shambolic approach to providing support services have added to the misery of our most vulnerable citizens.Under the Slogan
the Anti Poverty newspaper, STREET SEEN, hopes to draw a large crowd to the Dublin demonstration.

It is estimated that 237 people sleep rough on the streets of Dublin every night. Mark Grehan of STREET SEEN said that more needed to be done to support homeless people. ‘It is a disgrace that hundreds of people are consigned to sleeping on Ireland’s cold streets every night. The recent deaths of three homeless people in Dublin acts as a tragic wake up call to the people of Ireland and to the powers- that- be, to sort out the crisis in housing and associated services.

On Saturday there will be a sizable ‘homeless’ contingent which will be voicing its anger at the current situation. Saturday will offer an opportunity for the homeless community to be heard... There are service providers that do look into the issue but they are chronically under funded. The government looks at homeless people as not being vote givers and therefore they tend to concentrate on issues that will win them votes’, said Mr Grehan.

Trade unions, anti poverty groups and church leaders have thrown their weight behind the rally. Fr Peter McVerry, who has a deep interest in the welfare of homeless people, called on people to attend tomorrow’s event. ‘Homeless people are homeless by choice. But it is a choice that others make. Our failure to eliminate homelessness, in this the second wealthiest country in the world, is nothing short of a scandal. Homelessness, and housing waiting lists, both doubled during the Celtic Tiger years when this country had more money than we knew what to do with - but giving some of it to the poor was not a choice that we were willing to make. I would encourage everyone to attend Saturday’s event to show solidarity with our homeless community"

Organisers have called on those attending the rally to take along sleeping bags, blankets and non perishable food for distribution to those in need. The event will take place tomorrow at 2pm at the Central Bank on Dame Street, Dublin 2

For more information call Mark Grehan in the Republic on 087 797 4622

Ireland online

Campaigners are calling for hundreds of Dubliners to turn out to show solidarity for the homeless at a rally today protesting against the recent deaths of three people sleeping rough in the city.Independent TD Finian McGrath is joining representatives of the Labour Party and Sinn Féin as well as members of the homeless community and protesters at the demonstration outside Central Bank at 2pm today

.Ahead of the rally, Sinn Féin spokesman on social and family affairs Sean Crowe called on as many people as possible to turn out and show solidarity with the homeless. “The recent deaths of three people sleeping rough on the streets must not be repeated,” he said.“It is totally unacceptable that homeless people should be dying on the streets of our cities in the midst of a so-called Celtic Tiger economy.“With winter only beginning there is an urgent need for the Government to address this issue and a big turnout on Saturday will go a long way in focusing them on what needs to be done. The people of Dublin need to send a message to the Government that these deaths are a blight on them and their record,” Mr Crowe said.

The ‘No more death on our streets’ rally is being co-ordinated by anti-poverty paper Street Seen and organiser Mark Grehan said he hoped around 200 people would turn up in support of the campaign. “We’re calling on the Government to put proper and effective resources in this area – it’s not just about putting a roof over people’s heads, it’s also about putting in counselling and other services,” he said.As well as helping people who were homeless, resources were also needed to prevent people becoming homeless and to stop people falling back into homelessness, he said.

Sinn Féin Dublin councillor Daithi Doolan called on the Government to establish a task force to tackle homelessness in the capital as a matter of urgency. “Many of our politicians applaud themselves at the fact that Ireland has one of the richest economies in the world.“This claim is disgraced by the fact that despite the wealth, a record number of 237 people sleep on the streets of Dublin every night.“This was brought into stark reality when three people died on our streets recently simply because they could not get accommodation on the night of their deaths,” he said.

Irish Times
( Monday)
Homeless group begins campaign

Over 200 people joined a rally in Dublin on Saturday to protest over the problem of homelessness in Ireland, particularly in Dublin city. The demonstration was organised following the death of three people sleeping rough within the space of a week in Dublin city a fortnight ago.

At the protest outside the Central Bank, Dame Street, Mark Grehan, of organisers Street Seen, said the rally signalled the beginning of a new campaign. "In two to three weeks' time we will hold a public meeting. Then we will have a mass rally before staging a sleep-out outside the Dáil," he added.

A number of speakers voiced their concerns at the rally, including politicians and anti-homelessness campaigners as well as many homeless people. The key to this new campaign, Mr Grehan said, was the involvement of the homeless community towards solving this problem.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said: "Homeless people are invisible at the present time. We are not short of resources, we are short the political will to provide housing and care to all who need it."He said that in the run-up to the next general election, the political parties should make "cast-iron promises" to eradicate homelessness. "The Government looks after the super rich, the very rich and not at all the poor," he added.

Jeremy McHugh (32), originally from Kildare, is currently homeless and came out to support Saturday's demonstration. "If all homeless people come together and sleep outside Dáil Éireann, that's the only way this will be solved. We want the key to our own doors," he said.

Sinn Féin Cllr Daithí Doolan said it was a disgrace that 5,500 people in Ireland were homeless while the country enjoys such economic prosperity. He called on the Government to immediately "establish a taskforce to tackle homelessness in our capital". He also called on the Minister of State for Housing, Noel Ahern, to take responsibility and action. "People are dying for want of a home," he said. "Shame on you Noel Ahern."

The Labour Party, Residents Against Racism and other anti-homelessness campaigners also supported the demonstration.

At the end of the rally, Mr Grehan urged the assembled crowd to lobby their local TDs and councillors to take action on homelessness. A "street meeting" took place after the rally, which gave people from the homeless community an opportunity "to speak about issues that affect them," Mr Grehan said.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

No More Deaths On Our Streets

No More Deaths On Our Streets
Saturday 17 September @ 2pm
Central Bank
Dame Street
Dublin 2

The recent tragic deaths of two ‘homeless’ people in Dublin highlights the Governments acute inadequacies in serving its citizens. On a weekly basis people die needlessly on Irish streets due to the acute lack of housing and lack of services to those in need. In response to these recent deaths Street Seen, Irish Anti-Poverty Paper, are calling on people to protest in Dublin saying clearly enough is enough: No More Deaths On Our Streets

Numbers of people sleeping rough in Dublin city centre remain at record high levels, according to a new survey conducted by homeless organisations. Two hundred and thirty seven (237) people sleep rough in Dublin on any given night. These people are vulnerable to changes in the weather, violence, abuse and sexual exploitation. The survey co-ordinated by the Homeless Agency was carried out by Focus Ireland, Dublin Simon Community, Merchant’s Quay Ireland along with Dublin City Council and other homeless services

It was only with the introduction of the Housing Act in 1988 that any kind of national assessments of homelessness by Local Authorities were carried out. Although the early assessments were deeply flawed the most recent one (2002) found that a record 5,581 people were homeless throughout the state (according to the Housing Act definition). The majority of these were in Dublin. The Homeless Agency also co-ordinated a separate assessment for Dublin. This counted 2,920 homeless people in Dublin in 2002. There are currently 48,413 households on the housing waiting lists nationally and 5,581 people who are homeless. The vast majority of these live in emergency hostels and B&B accommodation on a night-by-night basis

Not only has the number of homeless households increased substantially over the years but the crisis in social/public housing has also deepened. The slow-down in the construction of social housing by the local authorities in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the rise in the cost of renting private accommodation and the increasing cost of purchasing a property have lead to an increased demand for social housing.

Housing charity Threshold recently called on the Government to prevent the creation of modern-day slums by radically improving living conditions in private rental accommodation. Threshold in its 2004 Annual Report, showed the number of calls from people living in unfit accommodation had risen by more than a third last year. Conditions people were reporting included problems with hot and cold running water, mould growing on walls, vermin infestations and living in windowless rooms, Threshold claimed local authorities were failing in their duty to inspect privately-rented accommodation, with only 7,232 of an estimated 150,000 dwellings checked by inspectors. According to the report, almost 30% of inspected properties were found to be falling below minimum standards.

Homelessness means more than just sleeping rough. If you are living in Ireland in a hostel or bed and breakfast or staying temporarily with friends because you have nowhere else to go, you are homeless.

Street Seen is calling on all those individuals, groups and organisations who wish to see the end of avoidable deaths on Irish Streets and homelessness to support this demonstration as a matter of urgency.

No More Deaths On Our Streets
Saturday 17 September @ 2pmCentral Bank
Dame Street
Dublin 2

Further Details:

Jon Glackin 0774 327 5533
Mark Grehan 087 797 4622

Supported by:
Street Seen
Fr. Peter McVerry
Mick O’Reilly, Reg. Sec. TGWU
Ray O’Reilly, Asst. Gen. Sec. IWU
International Homeless Forum
Residents Against Racism