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Roddy Doyle depicts Ireland's homeless crisis in new film Rosie Roddy Doyle depicts Ireland's homeless crisis in new film Rosie
(35 minutes later)
Roddy Doyle hasn’t had a film out in almost two decades as the writer of The Commitments, The Snapper and Family has been focusing on his novels. But two years ago, Ireland’s laureate of working class drama heard a homeless mother in Dublin being interviewed on the radio.Roddy Doyle hasn’t had a film out in almost two decades as the writer of The Commitments, The Snapper and Family has been focusing on his novels. But two years ago, Ireland’s laureate of working class drama heard a homeless mother in Dublin being interviewed on the radio.
The woman was describing her day, which had been spent calling hotels to find a room for her partner and their five kids to spend the night. It was a process she repeated every day.The woman was describing her day, which had been spent calling hotels to find a room for her partner and their five kids to spend the night. It was a process she repeated every day.
Doyle put down the book he was working on and immediately started writing a treatment for Rosie, which opens in the UK on Friday. Doyle put down the book he was working on and immediately started writing a treatment for Rosie, which opens in Ireland on Friday.
“She mentioned that her partner had not been able to help her [look for a room] because he was at work, and that really made me think. This was a perfectly functional working class family doing what society would like them to do – he goes off to work and she looks after the children in that traditional way. And yet the one thing missing was a home,” Doyle told the Guardian.“She mentioned that her partner had not been able to help her [look for a room] because he was at work, and that really made me think. This was a perfectly functional working class family doing what society would like them to do – he goes off to work and she looks after the children in that traditional way. And yet the one thing missing was a home,” Doyle told the Guardian.
Rosie tells the story of a young couple and their four children forced out of their home when their landlord decides to sell the property. Over 36 hours, we see Rosie glued to her phone, juggling normal family life while trying to find a room to sleep in.Rosie tells the story of a young couple and their four children forced out of their home when their landlord decides to sell the property. Over 36 hours, we see Rosie glued to her phone, juggling normal family life while trying to find a room to sleep in.
The film’s release is timely. Ireland is in the grip of a housing crisis in which a growing number of lower income families are being squeezed out of the private rental market into homelessness. The number of families made newly homeless rose from 39 in January 2017 to 113 in August. A total of 1,698 families are now estimated to be living in emergency accommodation across the country, the vast majority of which were either evicted by private landlords or were unable to afford a rent rise.The film’s release is timely. Ireland is in the grip of a housing crisis in which a growing number of lower income families are being squeezed out of the private rental market into homelessness. The number of families made newly homeless rose from 39 in January 2017 to 113 in August. A total of 1,698 families are now estimated to be living in emergency accommodation across the country, the vast majority of which were either evicted by private landlords or were unable to afford a rent rise.
These families drop out of the private market into a punishing cycle. Local authorities offer a subsidised-rent scheme, housing assisted payment, but to qualify for this, they are first asked to find a place to rent in a market where an acute property shortage is pushing prices through the roof.These families drop out of the private market into a punishing cycle. Local authorities offer a subsidised-rent scheme, housing assisted payment, but to qualify for this, they are first asked to find a place to rent in a market where an acute property shortage is pushing prices through the roof.
The majority of those who can’t find a home to rent and have no other options are put up in hotels and hostels, which are paid for by local authorities.The majority of those who can’t find a home to rent and have no other options are put up in hotels and hostels, which are paid for by local authorities.
From teenage pregnancy in Snapper, to domestic violence in Family, Doyle’s films deliver uncomfortable home truths to an Irish audience. Rosie confronts a homelessness crisis that can be too easily dehumanised by statistics, said Doyle.From teenage pregnancy in Snapper, to domestic violence in Family, Doyle’s films deliver uncomfortable home truths to an Irish audience. Rosie confronts a homelessness crisis that can be too easily dehumanised by statistics, said Doyle.
“There’s an anger to [the film] inevitably, I suppose, because I’d like to think that the people watching it will get the slow realisation that they are not going to get anywhere, and that this is actually happening on a day-to-day basis,” he said.“There’s an anger to [the film] inevitably, I suppose, because I’d like to think that the people watching it will get the slow realisation that they are not going to get anywhere, and that this is actually happening on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
Focus Ireland – a charity working to support the homeless – says at least 100 families are left chasing hotel rooms on a nightly basis. And that number is growing. The charity made 671 emergency one-night family placements in January this year. By September, that number had more than doubled.Focus Ireland – a charity working to support the homeless – says at least 100 families are left chasing hotel rooms on a nightly basis. And that number is growing. The charity made 671 emergency one-night family placements in January this year. By September, that number had more than doubled.
On the rare evenings the charity is unable to find enough emergency beds, they say families are sent to sleep in police stations – despite government denials.On the rare evenings the charity is unable to find enough emergency beds, they say families are sent to sleep in police stations – despite government denials.
Jolanta, 31, has three children. Last year, her landlord suddenly raised the rent on her flat from €650 to €800 a month, which she could barely afford. She finally gave up the property in May but then found she wasn’t able to find anywhere for less than €2,000 a month. She and her family were then sleeping on friends’ sofas but three weeks ago she finally ran out of options.Jolanta, 31, has three children. Last year, her landlord suddenly raised the rent on her flat from €650 to €800 a month, which she could barely afford. She finally gave up the property in May but then found she wasn’t able to find anywhere for less than €2,000 a month. She and her family were then sleeping on friends’ sofas but three weeks ago she finally ran out of options.
“There’s no way I would ever imagine this could happen to me,” Jolanta said, watching her two eldest children eat their free dinner at the Future Ireland cafe. “I feel like a failure in front of the kids.”“There’s no way I would ever imagine this could happen to me,” Jolanta said, watching her two eldest children eat their free dinner at the Future Ireland cafe. “I feel like a failure in front of the kids.”
Like every other family in the emergency accommodation cycle, Jolanta and her children have to wait until 8pm to be told where they are staying that evening, and then must be out of that room by 10am the following morning. In the hours between, she kills time and keeps warm.Like every other family in the emergency accommodation cycle, Jolanta and her children have to wait until 8pm to be told where they are staying that evening, and then must be out of that room by 10am the following morning. In the hours between, she kills time and keeps warm.
“I was in the park this weekend with a mother who had four children and was pregnant with her fifth. All four kids were sick and sleeping on the bench, the eldest had a high fever. The government has to do something about this,” she said.“I was in the park this weekend with a mother who had four children and was pregnant with her fifth. All four kids were sick and sleeping on the bench, the eldest had a high fever. The government has to do something about this,” she said.
On the international stage the Irish government has a progressive image. In a historically conservative Catholic country, it has overseen referendums that have legalised gay marriage and abortion. But when it comes to the housing crisis, the government can appear tone deaf to the public mood.On the international stage the Irish government has a progressive image. In a historically conservative Catholic country, it has overseen referendums that have legalised gay marriage and abortion. But when it comes to the housing crisis, the government can appear tone deaf to the public mood.
Last month, police sent men in balaclavas, thought to be with a private security firm, to forcibly evict housing activists occupying a boarded-up building on North Frederick Street in Dublin. This heavy-handed treatment of protesters served to galvanise public outrage and last Wednesday, 10,000 people marched through central Dublin to protest and demand the government address the housing crisis.Last month, police sent men in balaclavas, thought to be with a private security firm, to forcibly evict housing activists occupying a boarded-up building on North Frederick Street in Dublin. This heavy-handed treatment of protesters served to galvanise public outrage and last Wednesday, 10,000 people marched through central Dublin to protest and demand the government address the housing crisis.
In Tuesday’s budget, the government committed €60m (£53m) to providing additional emergency homeless shelters for families. But Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, who founded and runs Focus Ireland, points out the budget made no provision for new public housing projects, only a commitment to pour more money into an expensive, broken system.In Tuesday’s budget, the government committed €60m (£53m) to providing additional emergency homeless shelters for families. But Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, who founded and runs Focus Ireland, points out the budget made no provision for new public housing projects, only a commitment to pour more money into an expensive, broken system.
“From your side of the Irish Sea I’m sure the big thing about [prime minister] Leo Varadkar is that he’s gay when actually it’s much more significant that he’s a Tory,” Doyle said. “It is ideological, this idea that you don’t interfere with the market.”“From your side of the Irish Sea I’m sure the big thing about [prime minister] Leo Varadkar is that he’s gay when actually it’s much more significant that he’s a Tory,” Doyle said. “It is ideological, this idea that you don’t interfere with the market.”
• Rosie is on general release in the UK from 12 October• Rosie is on general release in the UK from 12 October
IrelandIreland
Roddy DoyleRoddy Doyle
HomelessnessHomelessness
EuropeEurope
HousingHousing
PovertyPoverty
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