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It is a damning indictment of society that we appear to be going backwards on housing

Letters to the Editor



Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien

Fifty years ago, as a 20-year-old clerical officer, I was handing out county council loan approvals to young families who could not get a mortgage.

Other young families were being allocated one of the many houses built by the same council in tandem with the National Building Agency.

We had not even joined the EEC. Cohesion and infrastructural funding were things of the future. The first motorway was more than a decade away.

There was little talk of supply and demand; little talk of housing strategies. The thinking at the time was simplistic in the extreme: citizens leave school, find work, meet a partner and start a family.

So they will need somewhere to live. A home.

Those who qualified got bank mortgages and bought new homes in private estates.

Those who qualified for council loans also bought homes in private estates.

Local authorities throughout the State were building thousands of good-quality homes. The other family units joined the council housing allocation list and waited their turn.

It was a long wait at times, but when they were allocated a council home, the rent was assessed based on the family income.

They were fairly certain that within a decade they would be given the opportunity to go from renters to tenant purchasers, giving them an equitable stake in their home – one that passed on within the family.

Today, housing bodies gleefully announce the purchase of dwellings in a private estate.

These houses will be allocated to those who await them by a lottery.

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Yes, a lottery.

The new tenants will have a 25-year lease subject to an annual rent review.

No foolish talk about purchase options down the line; no talk about what happens to Joe and Mary, Mary and Mary or Joe and Joe in their mid-50s, 25 years of rent paid and not a single bathroom tile of equity in the house.

Of late, the majority of the new units that actually get built are only available as rental properties after being bought up by various large property funds.

Government ministers speak of funding models, the planners speak of mixed tenure, sustainability, urban grains, public realms and core strategies.

The left speak of developer-led housing.

And existing communities – aided and abetted by local politicians of all parties – with their own established homes, object to almost all new residential proposals in their local area.

The courts are clogged with judicial review challenges to planning decisions.

Normally, “current year outrage” is based on how bad things were half-a-century ago.

But is it not a damning indictment of us as a society that, in 1972, we were well capable of meeting the housing needs of our citizens by doing the blindingly obvious: building new homes for all?

Larry Dunne, Rosslare, Co Wexford

Taoiseach’s critics have much to learn from past

I read with interest your account of the gathering of Fianna Fáil “malcontents” for an “exchange of ideas” while Taoiseach Micheál Martin was absent on an official visit to Ukraine (‘Taoiseach’s series of phone calls to stave off rumblings of rebellion among backbenchers’, Irish Independent, July 8). My word, how history repeats itself.

Older readers will remember how precisely the same thing happened in the autumn of 1979 when then-taoiseach Jack Lynch was away on an official visit to the United States. The malcontents gathered in his absence “for an exchange of ideas”. The outcome was Jack Lynch’s leadership was fatally undermined and he resigned as taoiseach to be replaced by the malcontents’ choice, Charles Haughey.

In the words of his political opponent (and friend) Liam Cosgrave, Lynch was Ireland’s “most popular leader since Daniel O’Connell”. It could be argued that the turkeys of the 1970 Arms Crisis had come home to roost and Fianna Fáil lost for ever their pre-eminence.

Mr Martin’s present day critics would do well to remember the consequences of the destruction of their last leader from Cork.

Fr Iggy O Donovan, Glen of Aherlow, Co Tipperary

Boris archive stays live through thick and thin

The Telegraph has an online Boris Johnson archive that contains many of the columns he wrote for that newspaper before he became prime minister “so that you can understand what makes him tick”.

Even The Telegraph drops an occasional “h”.

Chris Fitzpatrick, Terenure, Dublin 6

Johnson has left us with some serious Truss issues

I am at risk of a popcorn overdose as Boris Johnson’s ‘government’ falls apart, although personally I think he is the best British prime minister Ireland and the EU could hope to have.

He makes it so easy to unite in opposition to “Perfidious Albion” and represents the British ruling class perfectly.

You know everything he says is likely to be a lie, so you don’t even have to take him seriously. And it’s not as if any successor is likely to be any better. Who would trust Truss with her born-again Brexiteer zeal and nonsensical justification for breaking international law?

Frank Schnittger, Blessington, Co Wicklow

Coalition parties must be clear on protocol position

The Coalition, in particular the Fine Gael element, needs to come clean on its dealings regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol and the Good Friday Agreement. We are in squeaky bum time now. Boris will do his worst.

A year ago, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney tweeted his abiding support to his “closest neighbours” for the Euro final against Italy. The recipient was Boris. All well and chummy.

On Thursday night, he tweeted about his strong friendship with Shailesh Vara, the new Northern Secretary.

Recently, Mr Varadkar spoke of his closeness with DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson. Yet the DUP tells RTÉ Mr Varadkar will “do what needs to be done re the protocol”.

We are also told the DUP has a guarantee from Boris that if the House of Lords rejects the bill to override the Brexit protocol, Boris will enact the Parliament Act to neuter the Upper House. This is despite the overwhelming majority of Stormont Assembly members disagreeing with the minority DUP.

Surely the FF/FG antipathy toward Sinn Féin, now the most popular party on the island, is not holding Dublin back from standing up for the North’s and the Republic’s nationalists and the Good Friday Agreement?

Don’t worry about the DUP. It has the entire British establishment in its corner.

And Fianna Fáil needs to make up its mind on whether a name change is imminent for the next election. Fine Fall?

John Cuffe, Dunboyne, Co Meath

Only solution to housing crisis is new government

Jim O’Sullivan’s letter (‘Government refusal to alter its housing policy is bizarre’, Irish Independent, July 8) outlines the solution to the housing crisis “to allow a portion of monthly outlay to go into a mortgage” culminating in eventual ownership.

The housing minister’s latest attempt at shared ownership involves a massive shortfall as the prices are far too high.

Now we learn of “rolled-up” increases, backdated, if previous rents were too low. Rent pressure zones don’t apply.

We need a change of government, or global investors will continue to plunder the salaries/housing association funds/any available funds as Irish citizens watch desperately from the sidelines.

Margaret Docherty, Dublin 6

First Home scheme shows Cabinet has zoned out

While it is good to see help being given to first-time buyers in the form of an equity stake by the State, this scheme does nothing to reduce the price of a home and may actually
bring price increases as developers factor in buyers’ increased spending power.

The Government should also be looking to reduce the cost of providing homes in the first place, and a large contributor to that cost is the price of rezoned land.

When is the Government going to tackle the blindingly obvious artificial cost increase that rezoned land adds to the price of new developments?

David Doran, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow

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