Rock Against Homelessness | 

'Homelessness we see is tip of the iceberg', says Rory O'Neill ahead of fundraiser gig

"The majority of homelessness in this country is more invisible than that. It is families trying to raise kids in a room in a bedsit"

Rory O’Neill

Eddie Rowley

Campaigner Rory O'Neill, aka Panti Bliss, has told how the homeless on our streets are just "the tip of the iceberg."

Rory, who MCs's Rock Against Homelessness gig next month, for Focus ­Ireland, says the event will highlight our homeless scandal - and raise funds.

The online concert - at 8pm on the 20th June, from the Olympia ­Theatre and Windmill Lane - has an eclectic line-up ranging from Aslan and Gilbert O'Sullivan to Pillow Queens, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Wyvern Lingo and Tolü Makay.

"I'm very aware that what we see on the streets and in the doorways is only the tip of the iceberg," Rory tells the Sunday World.

Gilbert O’Sullivan

"The majority of homelessness in this country is more invisible than that. It is families trying to raise kids in a room in a bedsit.

"I live in Dublin 1, and on Gardiner Street there is a mile-long stretch of B&Bs.

"I see mothers and dads trying to drag out buggies from these B&Bs every morning," said the popular entertainer, well known as Ireland's queen of drag Panti Bliss.

The Covid-19 pandemic has magnified the homeless crisis, said the performer, who runs the Panti Bar on Capel Street.

"I was particularly struck by it during the pandemic because in normal times, when there's lots of people on the street and lots of traffic I think the homeless problem is more hidden. During the pandemic it has been very obvious when I'm out on the street going to the supermarket or whatever."

"When you see people with tents or several tents grouped together in some lane, that is not just a tonight thing.

"Those people are trying to make a home on that piece of pavement and I find that really shocking in this day and age."

Rory adds: "This pandemic has shown us that we can find hundreds of millions to fund the various issues involved, yet homelessness has been at crisis levels for years now. So we have the resources to tackle it but we just haven't used them.

"There are incredible and amazing people working on this all the time. I see the Muslim Sisters of Eire out every Friday night feeding 200 people on O'Connell Street, and I see the Simon Community out with soup runs, and I see the work that Fr Peter McVerry does."

The cash raised from Rock Against Homelessness will go to Focus Ireland, whose chief Pat Dennigan says: "Focus Ireland needs to raise nearly 40% of our annual budget through donations, so we really need people to support this great event.

"Rock Against Homelessness raised over €70,000 last year. "

Pillow Queens

Peter Vandermeersch of Mediahuis Ireland, the company behind, says: "Homelessness is one of the most urgent issues in this society.

"On and in our various print titles, we continually write about this issue, but by organising this concert we want to do a bit more than write about it. We want to enhance the awareness and raise some money for Focus Ireland.

"Because nobody in this country should be without that place that we all call home."

Tickets for the streamed event cost €23 and are available now via Ticketmaster. The concert will be available for seven days after the event (4pm, 27th June).

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