Homelessness crisis shows how little we have learned from past
■ “Families shut out as State flogs homes to investors” was the headline on the front of the Irish Independent on Saturday.
A further headline appeared on page six warning of an “avalanche of homelessness” as the crisis deepens. The last time we had an avalanche of homelessness was in 1820, 20 years after Prime Minister Pitt promised the Irish people the same lifestyle that British people enjoyed in Yorkshire or Somerset, as the dividend of the Act of Union 1800.
The avalanche then was due to the increase in population in the previous 100 years from three million to six and a half million. The country was at that stage “owned” by the absentee landlords, the forerunners of the current “vulture funds”. In the 1820s, the rents were paid in Ireland by the Irish labourers who relied on growing enough potatoes to feed their families and pay the rent.
I am not suggesting that the situation in Ireland is as bad as it was then, but this is 200 years later and, as a further story states, “822 families are currently stranded in hotels after 2016 promises are broken”. The homeless families today can carry their entire belongings in a suitcase.
In the years after World War II, millions of homes across Europe had to be rebuilt and all the governments agreed the rebuilding should not be left to the free market. According to the architect Le Corbusier, one of the most influential planners of that era, governments that allowed the free market to act unchecked were effectively failing the people that elected them.
We have obviously continued to disregard history, whether it is 200 years or 70 years ago, and allow the State to abdicate its responsibilities, watching a State body like Nama placing our recovery in the hands of the vulture funds, landlords and the “benevolent” private sector.
Sleeping out one night a year is just “tokenism”.
Hugh Duffy Cleggan, Co Galway
Influential planner Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier