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Carthy urges support for Raise the Roof protest

17 May, 2019 - by Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has urged people across Ireland to come out and support the Raise the Roof demonstration this weekend. The Midlands North West representative said that it has become abundantly clear during his campaigning work that the housing crisis is the most acute issue affecting people in his constituency. He will be joining the protest in Dublin this Saturday.

Matt Carthy said:

“The unprecedented housing crisis in this state has been caused by a series of failures of public policy – a failure to cap rents, a failure to build social housing, and a failure to implement an effective vacant homes strategy.

“The government has not just failed in its duty to provide adequate housing to all citizens. It has not been ‘neutral’ in this situation. Fine Gael has actively promoted the financialisation of housing by inviting in the foreign funds, and granting them a light-touch regulatory framework and special tax treatment.

“In March, the UN special rapporteur issued an absolutely scathing letter reprimanding the Irish government for its policies that have actively encouraged the financialisation of the real estate sector – and which have directly caused the extreme rise in homelessness we have witnessed.

“Specifically, the UN points to cuts to the public housing budget, and land hoarding by investors who deliberately restrict supply in order to inflate rent and prices. The UN authors single out three specific policies that have caused the financialisation of housing in Ireland, including the establishment of NAMA; the promotion of REITs from 2013 onwards; and the sale by the state-controlled banks of non-performing loans to US vulture funds.

“Sinn Féin in Brussels have been fighting vigorously to oppose the EU’s new proposed Directive on non-performing loans, which aims to give free rein to vulture funds and debt collectors across the EU, in order to bolster banks’ profits – and I will continue to do if I am re-elected.

“We are demanding a three-year rental freeze, a rent tax relief and a massive social housing building programme, as the preliminary steps in solving this crisis. We want to see the banks taxed and effectively regulated, and the vulture funds kept at bay.

“The UN has accused the Irish government of being in breach of its international obligation under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to ensure the right to adequate housing to everyone. It further accuses the government of breaching the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which declares that states must protect people against human rights abuses by business enterprises within their jurisdiction.

“This week, Sinn Féin has called for a fundamental step-change in the government’s approach to housing the people of this state. Housing needs to be enshrined as a human right in our Constitution.

“It is an absolute disgrace that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil voted against a Sinn Féin Bill in support of this, and which called for the people to have their say on this issue through a referendum in the Dáil vote this week.

“I urge all citizens concerned about the housing and homelessness crisis to show their opposition to the government’s failure on housing policy by marching this Saturday in the Raise the Roof rally.” 

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