Students to protest over ‘breaking point’ rent levels

By Joe Leogue

Students will next week protest outside a new student accommodation building in Cork over the housing crisis and its impact on those pursuing third-level education.

Construction at student accomodation at Western Road, Cork, where the old Muskerry Service Station was located over the summer. Picture: Denis Minihane.

The joint demonstration by UCC and CIT students’ unions will follow a separate housing protest set to take place in Cork tomorrow.

The Accommodation Rally for Affordable Housing will start in UCC next Thursday at 11am.

Protesters plan to march from the campus to the recently opened Amnis House Student Accommodation, at the site of the former Esso petrol station on Western Road.

UCC Students’ Union deputy president Kelly Coyle said the housing situation in Cork is at “breaking point”.

What we have seen over the last couple of years is that rents have gone up while standards have gone down,” said Ms Coyle.

“The situation is at breaking point and students cannot take any more.”

Ms Coyle said the demonstration will focus on Amnis House in protest at the cost of rooms, ranging from €210 to €225 a week, in the student accommodation complex.

“Our worry is when more private student accommodation buildings come on the market in the next couple of years, they will all be charging the same amount,” she said.

However, according to its website, all rooms in Amnis House are booked out for the forthcoming academic year.

“There’s a difference between being willing to pay, and having to pay out of necessity,” said Ms Coyle.

“We’ve spoken to students staying there who are doing so because they have no place else to go.

There are parents taking out second mortgages, students taking on extra jobs to pay these prices because there is nothing else available.

“There is nowhere else to go, and just because rents can be set at these prices doesn’t make it morally right; students have enough to be paying for,” she said.

Ms Coyle said the Students’ Union is hoping to generate momentum behind the movement in Cork ahead of a national demonstration next month, when unions across the country will join forces in Dublin to protest the lack of housing availability.

Meanwhile, People Before Profit has organised a protest for Cork City tomorrow following the events in North Frederick St in Dublin this week. Demonstrators are expected to gather on Grand Parade from 2pm.

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