The Irish government took a break from their lengthy discussions on their strategy for reneging on their election promises to make a public announcement tonight. Ireland’s first Taoiseach Enda asked the second Taoiseach Mícheál to speak (as a policy of taking turns is now in force).
“After one of the periods of silence in our political mediation, we at last found common ground. We believe the working classes of Ireland are being misrepresented by their title and we feel that this could be what has been causing the civil disobedience and mass trips to the capital for protest parades. We have become concerned by the people’s inability to accept our PR campaign slogans and never expected them to believe a few catchy phrases on a couple of posters. Our parties understanding of the national unrest about items like water or housing would seem to come from the belief that there is a class system in Ireland. We would like to clear any misunderstandings up by renaming the working, unemployed and lower-middle classes as Serf.
As an Irish Serf your ability to vote is more of a national fashion shoot and you should think of it as a festival of your betters. A leader can be a misleading term for a Serf as you might expect some representation and that was never our intention. Perhaps now as Serfs the people of Ireland will be able to accept the reality of the Eurocratic need for water privatisation and the entitlement of property owners. We are calling for more patience as it takes time to play enough games of golf to select the right property developer to bestow our housing crisis upon. The NAMA-land-distribution-of-wealth (NLDW) has caused a bit of divide among the ruling classes and the decisions around potential social-housing-profit-margins (SHPM) will need to be taken seriously and cannot be rushed. We are calling it a night as our drivers are getting tired but we will be returning at the crack of lunch tomorrow to ponder some more.”*
*may include a hint of satire…
The wealth divide in Ireland has been gradually increasing during our age of austerity and the increase of over 70,000 Irish millionaire is a testament to the fact that this shock therapy is a lucrative one. I wish I could say it’s a covert operation but it’s not. The facts and figures are there to be read and they are reliant on our inability to change our system or lack of media coverage to promote the inequality. We see a nation with hotel children, whose imprisoned childhoods are the byproduct of non existent rental controls, and Yeats words from 1913, the era of slums and tenements, are once more appropriate.
What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone…
The marrow they are drying is ours. The working, unemployed and lower-middle classes of Ireland. We will pay for over 70% of the water but we will use 10%. Increases in property tax, motor tax, VAT, PRSI, health insurance and the desecration of our public health and education services. The attacks on our vulnerable, in particular our children, have been unpalatable. We let bank employees give illegal loans of 450 million away without a prosecution but lone parent payment is cut from until age of 18 to 7. The Nuns who sold our children were more direct in their approach but a forced eviction, through emigration, of over nearly half a million of our youths, would indicate that a similar belief system is at play. Perhaps the person we are saving face for has changed, but today it is the Eurocrats whose boardroom charm has our local-lad-TDs sweating and faking solutions.
The result for us and our children remains the same. Hardship and pain. We have a housing crisis that requires 90,000 people to be housed and government strategy that felt promising 35,000 social houses by 2020 was sufficient. The remaining 55,000 people/families according to Alan Kelly and Paudie Coffey would be housed under the HAP and RAS schemes. Two schemes that create a positive statistical bubble for the Irish government. A solution worthy of any European boardroom but leaves the people within it powerless to achieve security. But what is the problem if you are housed? Well is it really housed if your landlord can ask for rent increases or refuse to renew the contract? Is it shelter when you are not part of discussions around your home, because they are held privately between landlords and the council, as tenants are not included? Or is it a home if you need to place your children, out of your community, into a city center school as you are unsure where you will be living in two years? You commute each day to ensure they have some stability in case your housing situation changes. And you hide your fears around eviction while creating a Santa you wished you could believe in.
These contracts are a CSO stop gap but do not take the psychological impact of living with such uncertainties into account. And why should they? You are housed. You are a tick in an excel document and you should be grateful and not complain about the support, regardless of the personal cost of living under such a scheme. This attitude will need to change as the margins of poverty are increasing. And with rents of 2000 Euro the percentage of peoples monthly income being spent on shelter is reaching unsustainable levels. How can an average family earning 35,000, save for a deposit with unscrupulous rent prices? An entire class of people are then forced to rent but without the rental securities that our European counterparts are protected by. The mass evictions by Grant Thornton in Cork and Dublin are the start of a trend that could see our people brought to their knees by profit driven vulture funds. In Cork, at the Eden tenants eviction meeting, the tenants spoke of the reality of rent increases of up to 1,450 without a blink. It was normal and accepted. An apartment rented for 8-900 euros a few years ago is now worth 650euro more a month. The walls remain mortar so now it is our desperation they are selling. They went on to describe the reality of trying to secure a new rental property. Stories of 50 people turning up to a viewing. People with deposits in their hands and references ready. Of bidding wars held by estate agents at these viewings. It feels like a wild west movie, like a scramble for gold. All conscience and morals forgotten as pennys are counted. And the sheriffs or bailiffs of this new frontier take cash in hand and protect those who pay as there are no enforced laws to fear or follow.
Ireland should not have a housing crisis it has estates all over Ireland that could be converted into social housing. The Irish League of Credit Unions have offered 5billion towards social housing costs. There are Irish companies in the pipelines with German and Swedish models of energy efficient passive and affordable houses just biting at the bit to work in Ireland. The question is why are the government not using common sense? Why is NAMA not being forced to hand over more land? Why are property developers not being controlled? Why are housing regulations so bureaucratic and regressive that international models of affordable and beautiful housing cannot be built here? There has to be a reason. Gross incompetence seems to obvious; so is it corruption? Is the housing crisis a mask for creating more wealth for a class of Irish people? If austerity can create millionaires; what will the housing crisis create? As minorities form some pantomime government it may serve them well to remember broken promises will not be forgotten. They may prefer the company of the wealthy but they do serve us all. Remember Russian history and ask the Tsars if they would have changed anything? That is of course, if you can still find one!
For more on who exactly the “housing crisis” benefits please read this article….