A protest, organised by the Galway Homeless and Housing Coalition, saw many public figures and students rally together to voice their demands for purpose built, affordable student accommodation in Galway city.
A spokesperson for the Galway Coalition said there has been a 9.5% increase in the number of people in emergency accommodation in Galway in the first three months of the year, with many students residing in hotels and B&Bs.
The protest, which was held in Eyre Square, was attended by Students’ Union members, homelessness campaign groups, and members of the Galway Traveller Movement.
The President of the NUI Galway Students’ Union, Roisin Nic Lochlainn gave a speech at the protest, stating that students have been left in desperate situations. She also commented that there are more than 3,000 students on waiting lists for on-campus accommodation in both Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village.
The Students’ Union President also took to Twitter to voice concerns over the decision to cease operation of the Oranmore-Craughwell-Loughrea city bus route after 6PM. She said the course of action taken by Bus Éireann left many students feeling concerned about being able to attend classes.
“Students are getting in contact with us asking for buses to be put back on so they can actually get to and from college. If there are no beds, and no buses, how can they attend?”
Julie Moran, a second-year Commerce student, told SIN about her struggles in finding accommodation in Galway.
“As soon as a room or house was advertised, I’d email the letting agent or landlord to schedule a viewing but I would get a response within the hour saying the room was gone. I lost count of how many times this happened, and I was panicked that I would have to resort to emergency accommodation. It’s just not how you want the start of your college experience to go.”
“Thankfully I ended up getting a room in a house near college, but that was only via a friend of a friend. I don’t think I would have found a place if I had continued to look online.”
In recent years, there has been an unprecedented growth in participation in higher education, while this year has seen the return of more than 200,000 students to third-level education.