Louise O’Reilly TD- Árd Fhéis Speech on housing crisis
Our proclamation is a freedom charter – it guarantees equality of opportunity for Irish men and women and there is also the much quoted reference to cherishing the children of the nation. So when we talk about equality of opportunity we have to look at the start that our children get in life. What start are we giving the kids who will tonight lay their heads on pillows that are not their own – who will sleep in emergency accommodation?
Just imagine what that is like – imagine for a moment getting up in the early hours of the morning to get to school in the place where your home should be – saying goodbye to your mam at the school gate knowing that she will walk the streets until it’s time to collect you from school – when you and your mam will walk the streets together until you can get back into the bed and breakfast or hotel. Imagine never being able to bring your friends home to play – imagine what impact that has on a child – imagine what start in life we are giving those 2000 children.
In 2004 the state built 6117 homes – by 2015 that number had reduced to 645 – the homeless crisis is not just created by government policy – clearly homelessness is government policy.
It is the job of the state to ensure that families have homes and it is the failure by the establishment parties to do that job which will be their legacy – we can abolish Irish Water, we can equalise pay for new entrant Gardai, we can put in place real and meaningful collective bargaining legislation but we may never be able to undo the damage done those children and their families. That, comrades, will be their legacy – a life half lived by children and their families who have been denied the basic right of a home.
We are republicans and the proclamation remains unfinished business – we cannot and we will not miss any opportunity to highlight the plight of these children and their families. We stand with campaigners like Erica Fleming and her daughter – we do not oppose them or say we cannot comment on individual cases because these are all individual cases – they are families, they are human beings and we will not give up until we get this government to start building homes.