Letters: Phoenix Park has the surplus space for building the homes our country needs

Ukrainian refugees cross the Polish border at Medyka in April last year. Photo: Gian Marco Benedetto© Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Letters to the Editor

I’ve been listening to the political and social debate about our undoubted housing crisis for some time now.

Our pre-existing lack of affordable housing supply has been exacerbated since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

Desperate attempts to give shelter to those fleeing invasion and persecution have met some success. More than 80,000 Ukrainian citizens have been accommodated one way or another. And because of EU directives have been treated as de facto EU citizens.

Those in direct provision are now faring less well as sheer accommodation capacity limits appear to have been reached.

But, in the case of Ukrainian citizens, asylum-seekers and “Irish” citizens, the basic problem remains: not enough supply of affordable housing to purchase or lease. The current planning legislation – and indeed the planning bill currently in the legislative process – will not resolve the crisis.

Emergency planning powers or derogations are the only solution. We have no shortage of serviced or serviceable land in Dublin city or indeed nationwide.

What we do have is no political or public appetite to solve the crisis.

There are 1,700 acres of serviceable state land within 3km of Dublin city centre. Its use is mainly as a deer park.

Yet even a modest proposal to utilise a small percentage of the Phoenix Park would be greeted with outrage. Not by those seeking homes, of course, but by those who have a place to call home.

Given the emphasis on climate-change attenuation targets, we may well leave clean air to the next generation. They’ll need it because they will be camping out in it.

Larry Dunne

Rosslare Harbour, Co Wexford

Let’s remember how some got fat during the Famine

I refer to Aidan Roddy’s letter (‘Injustices of Famine can help us empathise with homeless’, Irish Independent, Letters, May 10) regarding the injustices of the Famine.

We should remember Charles Trevelyan had a hand in not helping the Irish people during the Famine, but many Irish families availed of the Famine to swell their bank balances.

Some of these families, who had the opportunity to contribute to the poor houses from the rents they collected, chose to save money by paying £4 and 10 shillings to have them exported to the US on the migrant ships.

The story is fully told by Robert Scally, professor of history and director of the Glucksman Ireland House at New York University, in his book The End Of Hidden Ireland (Oxford University Press).

Mr Scally’s own ancestors were the victims of this “exportation”.

Hugh Duffy

Cleggan, Co Galway

We pay for a TV licence but we don’t get games to watch

It’s a disgrace that RTÉ won’t show all our national games. Once again we are reduced to the reliable old radio. We are going back in time.

Our elderly people are the backbone to the GAA and there is no respect showed to them.

So many people don’t have broadband to watch GAAGO. People who are hopeless at technology are left bewildered.

Times are hard for a lot of people, lots of people don’t have smart televisions. We already pay €160 for our TV licence.

Claire Mulrooney

Birr, Co Offaly

Musical revelation certainly struck a chord with me

In the article by David Cox (‘Use it or lose it – how learning to play a musical instrument can help reverse brain shrinkage as we age’, Irish Independent, May 16), there is the suggestion that playing music, and by definition learning how to play an instrument, can improve our quality of life as we get older.

Some 30 years ago I bought a guitar, but learning a few chords has put years on me.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Beards and bald heads are a sign of human intelligence

I am a 72-year-old bald man and I’ve had a scraggy beard for more than 50 years. I am profoundly appalled and deeply offended by the cultural appropriation of beards and baldness by young men who shave their heads and grow neat little beards.

I am not a bot.

Tom Farrell

Swords, Co Dublin

Artificial intelligence could become a fool’s paradise

With the rise of artificial intelligence, will pseudo-intellectuals be called artificial pseudo-intellectuals?

John Williams

Clonmel, Co Tipperary