Limerick students joined a 12,000-person strong Raise the Roof protest taking place in Dublin on Wednesday, October 4.
Students from Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) and University of Limerick (UL) made their way to the capital, frustrated at the lack of affordable housing in Limerick.
LIT President Ashling McGrory led the group, chanting slogans such as “raise the roof, not the rent” and “student homes, not student loans.”
The Limerick contingent joined the protest on Parnell Square before marching down O’Connell street, across the Liffey at Butt Bridge as far as Molesworth Street, opposite Leinster House.
Union of Students in Ireland President Síona Cahill, told the crowd gathered outside Leinster House that “rent pressure zones do not cover student accommodation, leaving them exposed.”
The protest coincided with debate in the Dáil on the Solidarity/People Before Profit motion seeking to declare a national housing and homelessness emergency.
The motion was passed decisively today in a major blow for the government, who lost the vote by a large margin – 83 in favour to 43 against.
The terms of the motion included:
- A declaration of a national housing emergency;
- Ending homeless evictions;
- Increasing capital on housing to €3 billion in Budget 2019;
- Achieving affordable rent controls.
Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan, who was present at the event, said that the acute shortage of affordable housing in Limerick can only be resolved by State intervention.
He acknowledged that the housing crisis is affecting every demographic of society, adding that he has “absolutely no doubt that this is the issue that will bring down the government, unless they can get their act together.”
Other speakers at the event included Senator Frances Black, homeless campaigner Peter McVerry and a musical performance from Damien Dempsey.
UL Postgraduate Student Union President Dean Lillis commended the large turnout, agreeing that “rent is rising rapidly in Limerick” and that he is “seeing people daily with housing concerns.”
More protests have been organised for Saturday October 6, increasing pressure on the government to implement the recently passed Dáil motion.