Tuesday 25 October 2016

Why capping of rent won't help solve the housing crisis

Published 01/10/2015 | 02:30

'Repossessions of family homes is one of the causes of the homelessness crisis'
'Repossessions of family homes is one of the causes of the homelessness crisis'

The Government's proposed capping of rents has been tried unsuccessfully in several other jurisdictions in the past, without solving the housing problem.

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It was tried in Italy in the 1970s but later abandoned because the net result was a drop in the amount of housing available as landlords exited the market.

It is unlikely our experience here will be much different, and as a famous man once said "stupidity is the inability to learn from experience".

And one of the causes of today's homelessness crisis is the number of repossessions of family homes by banks.

Where were the government proposals to cap mortgage interest rates? Especially at a time when banks were trying to trick people into moving from tracker mortgages and charging variable rates far in excess of ECB levels (as they still are).

Perhaps if the Government had capped variable interest rates by legislation in line with the tracker mortgages, some of today's homelessness crisis could have been avoided in the first place.

If they can do it to landlords, surely they can do it to banks? If the Government is listening, there's still time. But then, unlike the banks, the country's landlords do not have the Government by the short and curlies.

Nick Folley

Carrigaline, Co Cork

The 8th Amendment must stay

Dr Vicky Conway claims that to remove the Eighth Amendment to the constitution would not leave a vacuum in its place (Irish Independent, September 29). I take issue with that position.

The simple fact is that the legal recognition and protection offered to the life of the unborn by the contentious Eighth Amendment would cease to exist if we took the amendment away.

If it's taken away, a vacuum will undeniably remain in terms of the recognition of those rights and protections that once existed but no longer do.

While the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act serves as a useful prop in Dr Conway's narrative in attempting to fill that gap, the simple truth is that statutory law, however limited, that provides for the termination of unborn life is no substitute for constitutional law that protects it.

Of course, such a vacuum (and the denial of its existence) would suit the pro-choice agenda as something that yet further dehumanises the unborn child. I, for one, though, have faith in the ability of the Irish public to see through such a cynical ploy.

Killian Foley-Walsh

Kilkenny city

Not a drop to drink

There's water flowing on Mars? I nearly wet my pants with excitement when they told me ... and then I saw the "evidence" on Sky News. A dodgy black line stretching a little bit along a surface and they say it's water having a bit of a ripple. No, it's not.

If they had said the black thingy is a giant snake, a cousin of the little worm - that wasn't - the time Bill Clinton told us the world was certain of the scientific "proof" that life existed on Mars, then I would be much more convinced than the current watery explanation.

Why are scientists so hopeless at making up these stories that they must themselves believe?

Robert Sullivan

Bantry, Co Cork

A popular Pope

Your page one story 'Pope set for first visit to Ireland in four decades' (Irish Independent, September 28) states that "hundreds of thousands of people" saw Pope St John Paul II in five centres from September 29 to October 1, 1979.

That is a gross understatement of the numbers that cumulatively constituted the biggest crowds attracted by anyone in Irish history.

One cannot be sure of the exact numbers but at this remove it is difficult to get one's head around the multitudes of people involved.

It has been estimated that (in chronological order) 1, 250,000 attended in Phoenix Park and 300,000 in Drogheda on the Saturday, 300,000 in Galway and 450,000 in Knock (where I was) on the Sunday and 400,000 in Limerick on the Monday, a total of 2.7 million.

And that is to overlook perhaps 20,000 who turned up at Clonmacnoise on Sunday morning and the tens of thousands in O'Connell Street on the Saturday evening (where I was also), though many of them (unlike me) would also have been in the Phoenix Park earlier.

In 1979, the population of the Republic was 3.37 million and of Northern Ireland (where the Pope did not go) more than 1.5 million.

Hundreds of thousands of Catholics from the North saw John Paul II, mainly in Drogheda but also in Phoenix Park, Knock and Galway.

Martin O'Brien


All right Jack

It's really a shame that Ireland has to continuously chase after Englishmen (really, that's what they are) for the Irish team.

Nobody has any right to ridicule second-generation Englishman Jack Grealish for choosing England over Ireland. Imagine the uproar in Ireland in years past, from the fans and media alike, if Roy Keane's grandfather had been an Englishman and Roy chose England over Ireland.

The big problem lies in Ireland itself. We keep hearing about the size and population of the country as an excuse, but that's nonsense.

There are other small countries producing world class players all over the world. The rugby team can beat the best with home-bred Irishmen.

Sean McPhillips

New York, USA

Can pay, won't pay

Not everybody who hasn't paid their water charges has done so because they believe in the utopia-can-be-now brand of vote catching so prevalent today.

One friend I know (and I haven't just invented him as a proxy) fears that certain individuals will be let away without paying the charges simply because it's too much hassle to install meters in their areas.

My friend doesn't want to be a mug. As he says: 'When all water meters have been installed across the country and bills issued to all water consumers, I will gladly pay.'

Brian Ahern

Clonsilla, Dublin 15

Not the Disappeared

Why are we still calling Jean McConville and her fellow victims "the Disappeared"?

Should we not refer to them as "murdered and tortured", as this would appear to be closer to the truth?

Derek Niland


Irish Independent

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