Hundreds march for housing rights


ABOUT 200 people took part in the ‘march for houses’, organised by the North Belfast Civil Rights Association on the anniversary of the famous civil rights march in Derry 40 years ago.

Members of Organise! Belfast WSM also participated in the march including members of most republican organisations and most notably Carrickhill residents association.

The march assembled in Carrickhill, which has been subject to ‘urban regeneration’ by property barons in conjunction with the Department for Social Regeneration. It than made its way past the prowling eyes of the PSNI, before marching through the city centre and finishing at Custom House Square. Refreshments were provided nearby at the Front Page bar.

Speakers included local community activists and representatives from Sinn Fein, 32 County Sovereignty Movement and the Irish Republican Socialist Party. Speaker after speaker condemned the antics of property developers ravaging our communities. Little reference to similar housing problems faced by protestant working class communities, apart from an IRSP speaker and a community worker.

The 32CSM embodied the typical ‘labour must wait’ theory, that we have to wait for their UN initiative before we can begin to challenge class issues. Don’t hold our breath!

Sinn Fein where let of the hook for their imposition of Thatcherite anti-working class policies at Stormont. Only last week their colleagues in the Republic voted to bail out the bankers.

The association is campaigning for
One family One House
Rent cap on Landlords
End Discrimination
Security of Tenure
More social housing

It also seeks to expose a system that allows for continued discrimination, that 83% of people on the Northern Ireland Housing Executive list in North Belfast are from a ‘nationalist/catholic background’.

In many aspects, the march resembled an Easter republican commemoration march, except it was highlighting the ongoing housing crisis facing all working class communities. It remains to be seen whether this campaign represents a positive step forward or merely reinforcing sectarian divisions.

The WSM believes the housing crisis in terms of a lack of social housing, house repossessions and property developers ravaging our communities is a manifestation of a system that puts profit before people. The struggle for housing rights is inseparable from the struggle against the root cause of the problem; capitalism and its protector the state.

Only recently we have witnessed the rich and bankers being bailed out, while we as workers and unemployed continue to pay for their crisis. Nothing new in this regard!

This requires building a militant movement based on common class unity because in solidarity and unity we are an ungovernable force. A movement which utilises the tactics of mass direct action and civil-disobedience including squatting. Lobbying our MLA’s or councillors is not only futile but counter-productive as they are part of the problem rather than the solution. FIGHT BACK!