Housing for Who?

Housing for Who?

”I run a home in Dublin, Castlebar and Brussels. I wanna tell you something, try it sometime when you have a couple of cars and three houses and three homes and a few housekeepers.” The immortal words of Padraig Flynn. Those of us old enough, or who have sat at home on an August evening, watching Reeling in the Years , as the waning August sun pierces the sitting room for one last time, know this gem.

Try it sometime is the stand out line by a mile. Iconic at this stage. I’ve always had the impression ample money doesn’t buy you happiness, but I am willing to give it a go, as the fella says. Why is this quote still so galling to us? Well me anyway. It does usually bring a wry smile and an eye roll to the back of the skull from anyone within earshot, to be fair. Mr Flynn, through his let them eat cake quotes, showed us the vast chasm between some public representatives and those they claim to represent.

It seemed a real mask slip on his behalf. Surely they don’t all think like that? Surely most have a bit more self effacement? Of course he wasn’t the first or wouldn’t be the last, but it was the sheer lack of self-awareness that galled a nation.


Fast forward to today, and the chasm is stark. For myself anyway. Daily debates on radio and in ink, on housing is exhausting to engage with at this stage. It’s the same argument all the time yet nothing is changing.Why? They keep calling it an emergency don’t they?

You could only reach the conclusion that this government, and their team of civil servants are as removed from life on the ground for those younger than them, as Mr. Flynn was. The lack of empathy and understanding is just the same. I guess this is why they don’t bat an eyelid at the idea of paying over half a million for three bed semi? Or fooling themselves into thinking that somehow Housing for all solves anything.

Realistically, these folks have their fingers in their ears like a toddler being told they can’t have their way, especially when questioned. Simple interactions like holding them to account about presiding over such a mess where prices soar and soar, despite all this great tinkering around the top they are doing, enrages them.

Where We Fit

Those who know me will know I’ve taken a somewhat scenic route through this life. I have a broad and rich range of experience, and plenty learned from plenty of missteps. Those that know me also know I have worked for whatever I have and always aspire to do so. I have sacrificed much to finally land at my dream job, and that has paid off spiritually if not fiscally. I have never had the dreaded fear post Christmas or such holidays on heading back to work. Something to hold dear.

Herself is the same. I mean how rewarding can it be helping our youngest correct any mobility challenges they may have and getting moving fully in their lives? Incredible methinks. We are, in a sense blessed, and throw in a boyeen who has blessed us from day one and we are reminded of the gratitude we must show for these gifts.

Albeit, there can be an undercurrent of stress. We are still paying rent when all we want is to pay a mortgage. We are striving for this, and I believe we will get there. The journey has been lonely however, and it is hard not to become embittered when seeing the out of touch minister rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic.

If we are good enough to add to the social capital of an area, why aren’t we good enough to put down roots here fully? I am not angry at having to scrimp and save and work to the bone, I am angry at the lack of outcome that has brought me thus far. Some generations simply think they worked harder and got on with it. They certainly did, yet it isn’t a competition, we are too, we just don’t have the same guarantees for the same endeavours. Look at childcare sure.


You have to wonder who can afford such prices? Mortgages of 560k odd seem insane to me. The days of two good public sector jobs are at an end. Four times your income is a drop in the ocean now. Sacrificing high wages for a secure position is not so straight forward anymore, particularly with your employer, the state, pulling against you.

If we could qualify for such a mortgage I’d not spend it on a three bed semi anyhow. So, again I’m left to wonder who is actually buying all these homes? The intolerable state flirtation with vulture funds and such is highly problematic, for me. Post recession they sought to ensure there were buyers. That’s fine and the untold devastation of a recession is of course best prevented. However, using  these funds to ensure we don’t have  a repeat of the ghost estates, is only ensuring the prices now are chilling to the core.

This is not needed now.. Demand is there. Why are we competing with funds who have bottomless pits of cash? Why is the state opting to pay rent instead of owning the houses? Having local authorities rent is so flawed I can’t get my head around it. It’s our money they’re using too. Affordability is a joke when new builds are so compromised. With more questionable revelations every week, you would have to suspect all those around the top of housing, are cosy bedfellows, our TDs included.

Am I a Marxist Nut?

Walking around the roads near the Coombe waiting for Daithí to arrive was illuminating. I was all at sea, of course, yet I was impressed by the old red bricked homes on offer all around there. The state was basically embryonic yet well able to build more than adequate homes for the population. What has changed? Political will if you ask me.

Mr Flynn would be proud of the detachment the gang show today. I remember bringing students to Sweden on Erasmus a few years back. The family I stayed with were so welcoming and so content. They explained how they paid high tax but they got it all back, they felt. Childcare completely affordable and accessible, and the road to owning a home the same. A well built, well insulated, Scandinavian style home of course.

It feels like we pay high tax here yet don’t own what we are putting our money into. Banks? Pay in, not out. Homes? Get thirty year leases and let REIT funds rent them to us. Hospitals? Let the state money pay for private wing of children’s hospital, yet have private patients leapfrog everyone. Broadband? Pay big money to secure national grid; pawn it off to whoever gets the contract. Our country, hard won, is being sold from under us, at great value to some. Yet no anger, why?!

Marxism gone mad?

Is it insanely Marxist to think we should seek a return on what we, the taxpayer, pay for? The people; who when times are good demand to let the market be the market can indeed be the best marxists…sometimes. When money starts being lost at the top, it is no longer survival of the fittest, suddenly, cap in hand, they preach state intervention. Why must we endure such a la carte Marxism?

As a socialist I have no problem with the state investing money where needed. It should however have ownership. The bailout left many of us angry, and this hasn’t abated. Mainly due to the fact that we had the responsibility to pay, but never gained any rights or privileges that should accompany such an investment. Why is positive investment only for some?

Housing is far more complicated than the simple assessment I am offering, however it is not that complicated either. There are many honest, decent landlord’s here, yet all this talk of pushing them out, by making them pay tax is bizarre. Secondary income should be taxed. I paid fifty per cent tax on my leaving cert corrections last summer, such is life. Why should they be above it?

As long as housing is viewed as an investment opportunity, and a get rich/mortgage free  quick scheme, we are truly at nothing. Those on the other side of the house may not have the answers either, particular for myself, but sure what harm can they do at this rate?

Yeats captured this far better in the year 1913. His embittered rage at similar antics are clear to see. It took the terrible beauty of The Rising to restore his faith in us. I am at a similar juncture and no showing of unity seems on the horizon. When will this century old poem not resonate?

September 1913


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;
For men were born to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.
Yet they were of a different kind,
The names that stilled your childish play,
They have gone about the world like wind,
But little time had they to pray
For whom the hangman’s rope was spun,
And what, God help us, could they save?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.
Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.
Yet could we turn the years again,
And call those exiles as they were
In all their loneliness and pain,
You’d cry, ‘Some woman’s yellow hair
Has maddened every mother’s son’:
They weighed so lightly what they gave.
But let them be, they’re dead and gone,
They’re with O’Leary in the grave.





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