Letters to the Editor: Ireland's housing crisis is a shortage of political will

One reader says our fundamental problem is not a shortage of housing, while others consider topics including the National Gender Service, and pay and conditions in the Defence Forces 
Letters to the Editor: Ireland's housing crisis is a shortage of political will

'Affordable housing will only ever be the punchline of a joke if it’s not attainable to every single person in the country.' Stock picture: Gareth Fuller/PA

The Government has failed on numerous fronts on the increase in child homelessness. Can anyone genuinely argue that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have a mandate right now? 

Crisis after crisis — be it in housing, health, energy, or the cost of living — continue to afflict our civilian population, driving poverty and providing fertile ground for the rise of far-right politics based on hatred.

At present, there are 4,000 homeless children in this country. This is a shocking indictment of this government. Who exactly are Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil serving? If not the welfare of future generations, then who? It’s not the patients stuck on trolleys in hospitals, it’s not the thousands of homeless individuals, and it’s certainly not the immigrants who, due to government policies, experience racism. So, who benefits from their decisions?

How can we reconcile a situation where, on paper, there’s a surplus of housing while we live under the precariousness of a housing crisis? Homeless people and immigrants are forced to live in tents while there are 17,000 idle properties in Cork alone.

It’s a valid point to make that if we provided each of the almost 13,000 homeless people with a house, we’d still have a surplus of four thousand homes. So, we could deal with the housing crisis in just one night, by taking back vacant properties and returning them to use. How many surplus homes do we need, and why hasn’t there been a compulsory purchase order for vacant, derelict, or idle properties?

One of the major driving forces behind the housing crisis is the influence of big business landlords and investment companies. These entities have significantly contributed to the shortage of affordable housing, driving up prices, and profiting from the suffering of those in need.

The solutions required to address the housing crisis in Ireland are not radical but the solutions would seem to be championed solely by left wing activists. The failure to implement them underscores a fundamental issue. 

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have lost touch with the people who vote for them, and we have to be honest — it’s not just the middle classes voting for them. There’s an illusion that their voter base consists of privileged people, but that’s just not entirely accurate. There is a culture of tribalist voting in this country that has taken generations to break the hold of right wing governance. Like lambs voting for wolves; we are nearly there but we are not there yet.

The persistent neglect of issues like housing, healthcare, and the cost-of-living crisis has consequences that go beyond political ideologies and loyalties — it undermines the trust and respect that the government should have for its citizens.

The housing crisis is a stark example of this disconnect, we need meaningful action to rectify the problems created by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and their prop-up party the Green Party.

Rent freezes, eviction bans, compulsory purchase orders make up part of the solution, in combination with building out of housing that’s within the affordable range of a single working person. Affordable housing will only ever be the punchline of a joke if it’s not attainable to every single person in the country. Our housing crisis is not a shortage of housing, it’s a shortage of political will.

When we find the political will, we’ll find the solutions quickly after.

Ed Fitzgerald, Midleton, Cork

Qualified expert for HSE gender service

Regarding Mick Clifford’s article — ‘Concerns over gender service are being ignored’ (Irish Examiner, September 30) — the HSE is not honouring and respecting patients or clinicians in seeking a clinical lead in the National Gender Service without prior experience being a prerequisite and without setting out HSE policy on the issue.

I hold no special brief for doctors and have met my share of good and bad ones but some people are “born in the wrong body” and this needs to be acknowledged and attended to medically.

Changing sex/gender is a life-changing decision with irreversible consequences. The time to make life-changing decisions is adulthood.

The person wanting to make this life-changing decision is entitled to empathic, truthful, and experienced professional medical advice.

Services need to be guided by appropriate experienced medical, psychiatric, and psychological professionals with kindness, patience, and empathy but most importantly with integrity.

Gender is not a fashion issue or a trend issue. It is a complex issue to be treated with the respect of appointing a properly informed medically qualified expert to head the National Gender Service.

Mary Connell, Clontarf, Dublin

Low pay for our high-flying heroes

The Defence Forces did an amazing job in capturing the large cargo vessel that was carrying drugs. Naval Service personnel, Air Corps pilots, and especially the Army Ranger Wing soldiers, these heroes risked their lives abseiling unto a pitching deck in adverse weather conditions. 

The whole operation was even more incredible considering their lack of equipment. There was only one naval vessel available due to lack of crews. 

The Navy has a fleet of eight vessels, two of which are brand new but all tied up at Haulbowline. The Air Corps had only one helicopter on standby, a second aircraft had to be withdrawn from medical emergency cover to assist in the operation.

All this shows how the Government have neglected the people who do all the hard and dangerous work. It was pathetic to see, on TV and in the papers, the bean-counters and pen-pushers from the revenue commissioners and customs and excise who grabbed the limelight for the successful operation. 

These civil servants are paid a lot more than Defence Forces personnel and it is about time the Government realised this and paid a decent salary to them.

Mike Mahon, Rathgar, Dublin

Limited value in speed limit change

My regular journey from West Clare to Cork City and back will take at least an hour longer if proposed speed limits are implemented.

Clearly the same increase in duration of about 20% or more will apply to commercial traffic. So, in order to maintain current output, the number of commercial vehicles will increase by about 20%. 

This will, no doubt come as bad news for people living on the already overly congested road between Limerick and Cork, especially in Charleville where there have been a number of recent fatalities, likely due to traffic congestion.

I have been driving in rural West Clare for more than 40 years and only once have I seen a speed check. Even if this rate of speed limit implementation is improved forty-fold, the odds of being caught will still make the limits of very little value.

The only purpose of the present 80kph limit is to ridicule the system generally. On rural roads, people tend to drive at a safe speed for the given conditions. Some, of course, exceed what is reasonably safe and they tend to cause accidents. Altering the speed limit will not change this.

Donal De Barra, Miltown Malbay, Co Clare

Most drugs use is without harm

The Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use now has just one meeting left before it concludes.

It should really have been called the ‘Citizens’ Assembly on Addiction and Recovery’ because that’s all it’s been about.

As Professor Jo-Hanna Ivers testified at the first meeting, 90% of all drugs use in Ireland is without harm, yet this vast majority has been almost completely ignored.

Out of more than 100 hours of testimony, just seven minutes was given to a presentation about regulation of the cannabis market, the drug that most people come into contact with.

The focus should have been on the reason the Citizens’ Assembly was called in the first place, how to reform our outdated drug laws which harass and criminalise the 90% of non-problematic users and make it almost impossible for the 10% with problems to recover.

This has been a huge missed opportunity to develop a new drugs policy that is fit for purpose in the 21st century.

However, let’s be honest, would any government that was serious about change have appointed the ex-CEO of the HSE as chair, a man that is intimately and inextricably linked with the failed policies of the past?

Peter Reynolds, Knocknagoshel, Kerry

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