Housing Games

Housing Games

This is the long form of a three pieces looking at the current housing crisis as an organised plan by the Irish elite. It will cover, firstly how the housing system developed in Ireland; secondly, what the plan is of the elite and golden circle and, thirdly, why the current plan will not work and what can be done about this

These three pieces have been written by two members of the Irish Housing Network, Aisling Hedderman and Seamus Farrell. It represents their thoughts and not the views of the network as a whole.

 A History of Irish Housing

The history of housing is Ireland has been one of the rich, who build, buy and speculate, and the poor, who are disciplined, marginalised and punished. It has been, and this is often overlooked, a history of conflict.

Pre-independent Ireland had a system of grand land owners in rural Ireland and wealthy owners in the cities and towns, and, under them, a mass of renters and landless labourers.  In the 1880s tenants across Ireland demanded land and homes, and in response the English absentee landlords fought tooth and nail to protect their property interests. After the land wars, land was divided up across Ireland, still a largely farming economy. A choice few gained large plots of lands which were rented back to the poor; many others got plots of land so small that a family could not survive off them alone, they either starved or emigrated.

In the cities the poor were squeezed into tenements. In 1913 these were the worst, most overcrowded and dangerous tenements in Europe. Tenements collapsing, overcrowding, and high rents were combined with low or no wages, making poverty both widespread and insufferable. The greatest resistance to these conditions came from trade unions, and the high point of this battle was the eventually-defeated 1913 lockout, which led to the emergence of both Cumman naBan and the Irish Citizens Army.

After a radical first Dáil, a war of independence and a civil war, housing returned to the same system as before but with a twist. Private property was cemented into the constitution and explicitly seen as both an economic and social value. The aim was not to make everyone an owner, but instead to replace the English landlord with the Irish landlord. Kevin O’Higgins, vice-president of Cumman na nGaedhal and member of the first Irish Free State government, who did much to implement private property as the buttress of the Irish economy, accurately and proudly termed the developments as ‘the most conservative revolutionaries to ever put through a successful revolution.’ For the renters, meanwhile, tenements continued to collapse while poor farmers children were forced to move abroad to seek better circumstances. During this stage the church was aligned with the state and its functions were strengthened to keep the Irish people in check; this being achieved through the schools, the health system and the institutions for the mad and the bad, the work houses, the industrial schools, and, most famously, the Magdalene laundries. Charity defined who was deserving and undeserving, ran by the church.

This housing system was most strongly challenged twice after independence. In the 1930s the poor kicked back against the new consensus of landlords and the rich. Republicans for the most part led the radical actions, and the more moderate political powerhouse, Fianna Fáil, appealed to the landless, the small farmer and the working class in the city. Slum clearances, social housing and the redistribution of land began. Real gains were made but there was no long-term challenge to the landlords, developers or investors. As a result in the 1960s and 1970s a new generation were again facing tenements, slums, overcrowding and high rents. Communities organised by setting up tenants unions, occupying courts, squatting social housing and protesting against the government of the time. Once again communities forced the building of social houses. Strikes and actions continued in the 1980s.

The Modern System

After the turmoil of the 1980s, the 1990s saw the birth of the Celtic Tiger. In both the 1930s and 1960s/1970s the state had been forced to break from its support for the rich briefly to redistribute enough money to build social housing and keep society under control. In the 1990s they had a new plan to build the rich and keep the poor down. It would involve supporting the rich through a privatisation drive and a redesign of the major cities.

For this to happen two things had to occur.

First the provision of mortgages had to expand and they had to become a normal part of life. This was to cement the illusion of ownership and to allow the profit of private provision to be front and centre. Mortgages were possible because banks were able to lend more money. Banks profited, developers profited, politicians profited and there were more homes for more people and more private development.

Second, communities that had fought for decent housing had to be dismantled. Central to this was regeneration, where private developers were hired to redesign social housing estates. Regeneration meant limited social housing, the sale of public land and the increase in the private rental sector. Regeneration swallowed the time and energy of the communities. Divide and conquer was the order of the day. Some families, after 20 years, got new homes, but many didn’t and were driven out to the edge of the city, all the while private developments sprung up around these pockets of communities and a ‘good social mix’ was policy.

2008: Economic Collapse

In 2008 the ownership driven model took a major hit. The Irish Banking system collapsed along with part of the world banking system. Banks collapsed in the US. In Europe banks stopped lending to each other and, suddenly, there were billions missing from the Irish banking system. The Irish government decided to take on this debt, passing it from a web of private banks, developers and investors onto the shoulders of the Irish people. Paired with this massive debt was austerity, the shedding of a weak social safety net, and along with it the basic needs provided by the state, which had previously been used to cover up the gap between rich, the middle and poor. The cuts were devastating: education cuts, community cuts, health cuts, mental health cuts, lone parents allowance cuts, welfare and pay cuts and, finally, housing cuts.

In housing the strain of debt cut across the entire system. Firstly as wages went down, as unemployment rose, and as banks looked to hold their assets together, mortgages went from being a sign of a healthy economy and social progress to a burden. Buy-to-Let, 100% mortgages, tracker mortgages, fix-rate mortgage and affordable housing mortgages and 50/50 mortgages all suffered at various times and in various ways as the stock market and banking system staggered from turmoil to turmoil. House prices used to show asset value had gone up in smoke.

Regeneration collapsed, and the problematic public-private partnership which had divided communities, broken community organising, and provided precious few homes while building a professional elite to administer communities, was fatally damaged. Weakened by decades where community self-organisation was discouraged, punished and, often, made illegal, the community fightback was disorganised and sporadic, if it existed at all. The social housing budget destroyed, cut by 80% and building all but stopped. Communities who were little-helped by the Celtic Tiger were now to see public housing viciously attacked, the few crumbs from the top table were no longer up for grabs.

The private-rental sector, much ignored and neglected in Irish society, started to play an important role. As house prices went down, so did rents; large numbers emigrated, smaller numbers moved towards renting. There was no change in conditions for tenants, and wide scale abuse was covered over temporarily by the lower prices, and a new renting class unfamiliar with rental procedures or housing regulations.

After the initial banking crisis and the first wave of austerity, the response from the rich and their bidders in government was twofold. The first move was to stabilise the housing system and the second was to use the crisis to privatise. This meant clearing debt and raising prices back up. The National Asset Management Agency was established (NAMA). This was for the big boys, the golden circle, the ones who had bought a lot of apartments, land, offices and buildings and needed their loans paid off. If the Irish developer and investor weren’t doing enough the door would be open for international vulture funds.

For the rest of the mortgage-holders, there were temporary measures to stop evictions. These were quietly lifted in 2014 and, since, bank repossessions of family homes, headed by unidentified private security in balaclavas with covered license plates, have become frequent.

For those big developers and investors and stable home owners, a new idea was coming to the fore: the private rental market could be a parking ground for everyone else. The former mortgage-holders and potential mortgage-holders, young professionals who hadn’t emigrated, or who might return to a new low-wage economy, students and all the communities hoping for social housing, could all be cemented as renters.

Conclusion

For the rich, efforts to stabilise and privatise housing has had strong results, and for everyone else it has been a disaster.

For owners, NAMA has brought the rich back into the housing game. It covered the majority of their losses, but the sale of assets has been a circle, from the Irish elite and back to the Irish elite, a circle that occasionally opens itself up to the international elite.

Nothing has been given back to the rest of society. This has meant that as wealth concentrates, the rich are sitting on their investments till the price goes up. Meanwhile, supply has dried up.

For renters, rental prices have surged dramatically, with no security of tenure, or decent conditions to accompany the price hikes. Many of the landlords have taken advantage of the situation to raise rents and not cover repairs while others have been caught in a cycle of rising living costs with high mortgage payments, making rent increases a part of their way out.

For the homeless, some families who fought a generation ago for social housing were forced into private rented accommodation after 2010. Due to the impact of community cuts, education cuts, lone parent cuts, health cuts, drug and support service cuts and welfare cuts there is a new, third layer of homelessness that is growing massively and is often hidden. Traditionally, homelessness was the space for the all of those outside of society, and spaces for the homeless were controlled by the church: the foster home, the industrial school, the mental hospital and the Magdalene laundries. For travellers who fought for freedom of movement, it involved keeping them in halting sites; for single mothers caught on the margins it involved keeping them locked away, out of society’s eye.

In modern Ireland, the Church has been irreparably damaged by its abuse of children and its subsequent cover up for abusers. The church still plays an important role in homeless provision but is no longer dominant. Charities, the state, businesses, and the last remains of the church, have made an unholy alliance and teamed up to create a new homeless industry. As austerity took hold a mix of charity and private business could be supported by the state to provide everything from hostel beds, day services, care services, residential living, community drug projects, and emergency accommodation that is more reminiscent of detention centres than it is of accommodation. The fallout from the mortgage crisis, austerity and rising rents in 2014 would be both a challenge and an opportunity for this still-growing homeless industry.

Housing For Rent

In 2014 after the boom of the Celtic Tiger, the Economic Collapse of 2008 and 6 years of austerity, the housing system was left in tatters. House Prices were low, building had halted and both rents and homeless were rising.

Housing in Ireland, since the foundation of the state had been focused on ownership, but now a plan began to emerge, a ‘rebalancing’ of the Irish Housing system which would put renting at the centre. Our proposal is that, as important as office space, hotels and mansions in Dalkey continue to be, a new engine is needed to drive the money making wheels of Irish property speculation, and this is emerging as the private rental market.

Renting and a strong profitable rental market has begun to emerge as the central vision for Irish housing. There are four pieces to this new housing picture, which together make up the first push towards the private rental market becoming the profit making engine of Irish housing.

Piece 1: Developing the Renters

There is a weak rental market in Ireland by international standards. Small landlords dominate an unstable mix of housing types, spread across the city, poorly managed and maintained. This made renting unattractive for many during the Celtic Tiger and now creates a range of problems as more and more people are forced to rent.

A rental market of small landlords and poor housing quality currently makes a profit but it could make far, far more. To do this the landlord class needs to be professionalised. This can be done in a number of ways. Firstly the small landlords could merge, secondly larger Irish landlords, investors and developers could push the small landlords out by buying up their properties or thirdly the development, investment and management of the rental market could be opened up to vulture funds and professional international rental agencies.

The main shift seems to be towards the final option, open up the market to the international rich. Many development areas in Dublin City, from the Docklands built to serve Ireland’s tax avoided multinationals, to Kilmainham, across the outer reaches of the South Side from Tallaght to Blanchardstown and Swords rental apartments are at the centre of new developments. These have either been developed from the start by or bought off banks and receivers by international companies. Rental Apartment development has become an important part of new developments in other cities across the island and even small to medium towns. This is only the beginning, if government efforts to court more and more international vulture funds bares fruit, such developments will only grow.

Piece 2: Public Housing: Moving the Poor into Private Rental

The 2014 Social Housing Strategy and the announcement of a new model of Housing ‘Public Housing’ in 2015 by the head of Ireland’s most powerful City Council, Dublin City Council signaled the second piece in the housing jigsaw.

The Social Housing Strategy, in the middle of the crisis, with homelessness rising and 140,000 plus people on the social housing list, basically outlined how it would avoid providing social housing. 10,000 homes were proposed per year for 5 years, but behind the smokes and mirrors, any direct work by the council has been largely focused on regenerating a small number of estates and refurbishment (counted as providing even though nothing new was built). The remainder by in large will not be provided directly by the state. Instead voluntary bodies, housing associations and charities are set to be the providers.

If only 10,000 social houses are to be built in the entire country, now largely not developed by the council directly, how will the waiting lists be cleared and what of future demand for social and affordable homes? A new scheme emerged in 2015, supposedly to tackle all of this, ‘Public Housing’. It was and is a call to eliminate social housing, and hand over low income families to an unstable and expensive private rental market, subsidised by the state. The centre piece of Public Housing, is the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). The state is and will form contracts with private landlords and pay the majority of the rent for tenants under the scheme. This would count as public housing and clear people of the waiting list. It is envisioned that 150,000 people would be on HAP across the country. A whole new range of schemes would also be part of public housing, cost based rental, affordable rental and supported rental. All would involve private landlords providing what was once the role of the council and state. According to Dick Brady head of housing at Dublin City Council, “Developers would get guaranteed rental income and profitable returns over the period.”

As with the social housing strategy, public housing cemented the idea of the council as manager not provider. According the Dick Brady “the key was to “marry” the roles of housing developers and housing managers for the public good. The public good here seems to be the investors pocket and the end to a housing system based on security of tenure and fair rent based on income paid to the state and redistributed to the rest of society.

The move towards public housing, aka private rental instead of social housing has begun. The Private Rental Tendency Board has become the Rental Tendency Board, as all rental disputes merge, HAP has begun its role out and has already begun to dominate parts of the housing and homeless section of councils work and major charities. The government is backing measures to sell the existing social housing stock through low cost loans and right down of prices of social housing for existing tenants to buy these homes. Finally new developments, on public land, are largely being reserved for commercial and private rental development.

The goal of a private rental market as the king of Irish Housing is not yet a reality but its idea is guiding housing policy up and down the country.

Piece 3 Mortgages: Pushing the bottom Mortgage Holders to Private Rental

Since the housing crisis blocks had been put in place to avoid large scale evictions in the mortgage market. These measures left families in terrible debt and improvised in homes but avoided large scale evictions for a time. Two measures in 2014 and 2015 came together in the mortgage system to facilitate this. The first was the Land and Conveyance Act which came into effective in 2014. This quietly lifted limits in place on eviction. In 2015 restriction were also put in place on mortgage borrowing. Prospective mortgage holders would be limited access to the mortgage market if on low income.

In Dick Brady’s words “Public housing would capture …those who have been squeezed out of home-ownership”. Mortgage holders evicted due to arrears and new prospective home owners unable to afford a mortgage would be set with one last option, private rental.

Piece 4: A Homeless Industry

An unstable rental market has already meant a massive increase in homelessness, and with that an emerging homeless industry.

As sick as it sounds, a homeless industry is both a need and an opportunity for the Irish Establishment. It is an opportunity as private business can make money out of this suffering and charities and NGO’s can build their organisations and enrich their board and management. A homeless industry is needed to take in those economically pushed out of the private rental market. It is also needed as a social control, the fear of homelessness means that those who hope for security and are not getting it in the private rental market will stay quiet out of fear homelessness.

This is not a pipe dream, this system in all its brutality is already in place and growing. Councils are moving out of prevention, through the cuts to services, community resources and other measures taken. They are moving away from providing accommodation. In cities, this entails more and more contracts for companies and charities. On traveller halting sites, this means councils refusing to service the sites and/or directly closing sites across the country. For direct provision and refugee accommodation this means private companies providing spaces, and charities checking on conditions, acting as management/regulators. Modular housing has emerged as temporary accommodation that is more stable then hotels but which keeps people in homelessness while creating a new market for private developers and management companies. Homelessness is being made permanent and profitable.

The Cost of a New Renter System

The push to make the private rental market the centre of housing in Ireland is the most right wing push on housing, the most damaging attack on the idea of housing based on need, in a generation. While a small number will benefit, investors, landlords and the rich, there will be very real costs for the majority, if their plans go through.

Instability

The private rental market is unstable by nature, the law, and gardai back up landlords who can evict and the price is set by landlords and investors who will always seek higher profit and therefore rent will go up. The current plan will make this acutely worse. Currently there is not enough private rental supply. The private rental market needs to massively expand to take into those who would be seeking social housing, those coming into the private rental market and those being forced out of mortgages. The numbers simply don’t add up.

HAP the main way of clearing the waiting lists and moving people into private rental will be voluntary for landlords, therefore landlords will not have to accept payments and there will be little or no punishment if landlords pull out of the scheme. When this is combined with the fact that there is no security of tenure or rent controls, tenants are always going to be worried about high rents, rent increases and the risk of homelessness.

Damaging Communities

Economic instability create social instability. A rental system with no security of tenure and rising rents means people forever moving from home to home, breaking any bonds formed with the community and the services they avail of. Without community, without support we see isolation, mental health problems, and breakdown for people’s day to day lives. Austerity has made this worse already by cutting funding to all supports for people and communities. If you fall through the cracks there is little to pull you back up.

Unaffordable

The private market will be expensive for the immediate tenants and in the longer term for society.

With prices set by the markets (who are investors, developers and landlords), a lack of supply because of an investment strike by the rich and with attempts to move large numbers of people from mortgages and social housing into private rental we are likely to see rents continuing to go up.

For private renters on no payment from the state, and with wages low this will push more into poverty. For those on HAP, the state will be paying increasing amounts of money to landlords. For the rental system to work there will be a need to have a large homeless industry. Currently in 2016 costs are 102 million in state subsidies for such a system. When you factor in the loss revenue from social housing sell offs, tax breaks and incentives and spending by the state on subsiding new developments, the housing system will be extensive for everyone without any direct security or stability for the majority.

Deepening Class Divide

Irish society is deeply divided by class, and property is at the centre of this. Despite Dick Brady’s assertion that private rental market, via public housing will create “mixed tenure communities” efforts to create a private rental model seem more likely to deepen rather than loosen class division. Renters are being between private, those who will have a wage to rent without support largely a multinational or managerial middle class, affordable and public for those working but with low incomes the working class and finally social housing for those without work, the lowest section of the working class, to be stigmatised and divided from society further. Homelessness adds an extra layer of brutal class divide between renters and the homeless and within homelessness. The homeless will be seen as having nothing as less then renters. Within homelessness there already is a divide between the respectable and deserving homelessness those who do their time and keep their head down, versus the troubled homeless whose who stand up against their mistreatment or struggling with their living in terms of substance abuse of mental health problems. Stigma and fear will drive the class divide at the centre of modern visions for Irish Housing.

Solutions and the Fight Ahead

Social Housing for all

We badly need an alternative that deals with the immediate conditions, instability, brutality and inhumanity of the existing system and creates a long term alternative which provides for all based on need.

Private home ownership while providing stability for some but has allowed the rich, the golden circle of developers, investors, landlords and political elite to cement their power in Irish society.

The Proposed Private Rental/Public Housing Model, cements an unstable, unaffordable community and class dividing system, which will damage us in the long term.

Social Housing has had its ups and downs. Considered progress from the days of tenements and slums, a place of fair rent and community solidarity, the drug epidemic, unemployment and lack of community resources in the 1980s damaged its image. Despite this the basic idea of social housing is sound, fair rent paid based on income and housing managed by the councils not the private market. We need to not only bring back social housing we need to expand it to include all incomes. This would mean diversity of tenants and enough income to help maintain the housing system for everyone to benefit.

First Steps: Supporting Homeless, Renters and Mortgage Holders

We need short term steps that can be taken now to move us towards housing for all based on need. These steps need to be based on the principles of safe, secure and fair tenancy, housing taken out of the private market, breaking down class divisions and building community.

Homelessness: Anyone in the homeless system should have safe and suitable accommodation for their needs as a right. They should have fixed term contracts with full tenancy rights and the right to representative in any disputes. Homeless services should be taken back from businesses and charity organisations and ran directly by the state. Homeless services should be in the community in which the person has their support network and resources should be built around these needs.

Renters: Security of tenure and rent control. Right to representation in any disputes, based on collective bargaining (a tenants union). To take rental properties out of the market immediate and rebalance power for tenants, indebt landlords should have the option to write off their debt if rental property becomes social housing. This would mean a large reduction in rent for the tenant and a secure contract with the council. Landlords who mistreat tenants, break rent control, or fail to provide safe and suitable accommodation should be fined with the option of repossession of the property with tenants then transferring to social housing.

Mortgage Holders: In the short Term Mortgages debt could be offered to be written off with owners agree that their home becomes social housing. The mortgage holder would then pay rent based on their income, housing secure for their family and the property would be out of the market. Opening up the option of social housing to existing mortgage holders and perspective mortgage holders would mean the option is there for a far lower monthly payment without the risk of economic eviction. For many home ownership is the route they want to take and they will still have that option, but for those who’s main reason for a mortgage is cost and economic security, social housing will be cheaper more secure option.

Long Term: Social Housing for all in Communities for all

Measures to provide for the homeless, renters and mortgage holders and move them towards secure stable and fair rent and housing outside the market would help to rebalance the housing system and provide for thousands currently trapped. Social Housing and strong Communities built around them are the long term solutions that go on top of this. A large scale state building program is needed. Such social housing needs to be built and developed based on need. This means building and transferring homes into social housing where there are existing amenities and community services, traditionally better off areas, and providing community supports while building is done. The types of social houses need to be diverse based on diverse needs and interests. Finally a bad landlord cannot be replaced by a bad council or charity manager. Communities need to have a democratic say in both the running of their estates and in the services provided, through direct democracy.

Fighting for this change?

The powerful forces are moving against housing based on need. Investors, businesses, developers and landlords are lining up supported by the state, charities and NGOs, and a range of academics and policy advisors pushing for a deepening and strengthening of the private market in housing.

We will have to fight this and there are number of important points to keep in mind while we do.

1) Those affected lead

Those affected are many and have common cause to fight back.

Those affected are everyone who is homeless, those living on the street, in B&Bs, hotels and hostels, in detention centres, (in direct provision as refugees) prisoners, people coming out of institutional care, those coming out of rehab, travellers kept on halting sites and women forced out of abusive relationships into domestic refuges.

Those affected are those in social housing who have stability now but whose families, children and grandchildren face overcrowding, homelessness, sofa surfing and an unstable rental market. They can demand their families are looked after and their communities are strengthened after the devastation of the last 30 years.

Those affected are everyone in rented accommodation, be they social renters or private renters; sick of a system which sees them pay so much of what they earn in rent, for an unstable and uncertain living.

Those affected are those who got a loan from a bank to get their family home and who are now living month to month, spending all their money paying a bank that always wants more. This includes those in arrears, and those on the edge of arrears, struggling with their bills.

2) Those most at the fringe will lead from those affected

Those affected who are most at the fringe of the system, the homeless and the lower renters who traditionally fought for social housing we argue are best placed to lead the fight back.

Firstly these groups have the least too loss. The risk of homeless and eviction has already forced a fight or flight response in many. Some escape, understandably, but many have already stood up and fought back, from stopping their own eviction to occupation of the council to ongoing battles with their landlords or the state over conditions.

Secondly, we cannot win a long term change to the system as a whole one by one. We need collective action for wider change. When pushed to the edge of society many increasingly come together to support each other despite the obstacles. If you have little you are more likely to rely on family, friends and your community for support and you support your family, friends and community. The working class and those suffering at the margins are largely not organised into ‘formal’ groups but they still holds informal community power and take collective action when needed. This the base to fight from.

Thirdly the collective memory of the fights of the 1970s and 1980s of social housing when it was new and when communities looked after each other is collective memory of what we need for our children and our children’s children. It is the inspiration for change. Working class families have this memory and tradition which our generation needs. This is inspiration for those struggling in homelessness, social housing and low income renters but also inspiring to those above who might feel they are more comfortable but still facing high rents and unstable housing, who fight consider themselves respectable but who need to fight like everyone else.

3) Room for supporter in the struggle

While those affected need to lead the fight back and those most at the fringe are those taking up the fight already there is room for allies. There are powerful forces who profit from housing, who profit from an insecure and unstable housing system and who build their lives and power on being a class above. They have considerable resources and the full force of the state behind them. Therefore supporters will be important. There are four groups of supporters in particular who can support those affected and combine with them in the struggle for change.

Firstly those who are not affected, who are secure in housing or employment but believe in decent housing for all. These people are important allies, both to support the struggle by those affected and to use their security to take risks that those affected may not be able to.

Secondly there are the left wing political forces. Left wing, socialist and in Ireland left Republican political forces set out their aim as a just and equal society which includes housing. These groups need to support those affected and their communities. They can also connect struggles, from racism and gender inequality which play out in housing to the wider push by the elite to privatise and enrich themselves across all areas.

Thirdly there are Trade Unions. Working conditions and housing are inseparable. A pay increase means nothing if rents go up, more job security means nothing if your rent goes up and homelessness blocks the ability to work full stop. If the aim of trade unions is decent pay and conditions they have to include housing in this, if the aim is further, the dismantling of capitalism itself and its replacement with the labour control then social housing is inseparable from that aim. Trade Unions also have the rich tradition of struggle, organising and disruptive tactics that their members need and the wider housing movement needs.

Finally other ‘progressive’ organisations. There are a whole range of think tanks, universities, charities and NGOs which play a problematic role in defending and protecting the private housing system. These structures need to break from their role and provide a space to both critique the inhumanity of the system but also provide space and resources for the voices of those affected.

Conclusion

The History of Housing is Ireland is of brutality, inequality, power for the rich and marginalisation of the poor. It is a system built on ownership that now aims to be centred on renting. It is a system that will continue to and will deepen chaos, instability and suffering for the majority.

We needs an alternative, the system needs to be replaced as a whole not tinkered with at the edges. We need a social housing system open to everyone, taking housing out of the market, providing security and fair rent and starting the challenge to class division itself. We will not be handed this, we need to fight for change. Those affected and those most at the fringe of the system can and will lead this fight back and will call broad sways of society to come out and support, the most common sense but radical of demand, a secure, stable home for all.

 

The Problems with Modulars

Fingal Modular Battle

Modular Housing:

 

Thank you to Fingal Housing Crisis Community for putting this great photo together.

 

Since Modular Housing was first announce member groups in the Irish Housing Network have expressed grave concern at the idea of modulars. Here is my quick take on a few problems with the scheme

 

 

1) Modulars V Opening Voids & Other Vacants

 

As the picture shows, the first go of modulars will now cost 247,000 per unit. Opening up and doing up voids would be a lot cheaper. There are literally hundred of voids in some areas and single digits in others. Voids are council owned already, could employ decent union labour to do them up, and could be ready to go quicker then the 6 month wait on modulars.

 

Voids are council owned there are also countless vacant and derelict buildings owned by other public agencies, NAMA private landowners and companies also. The public assets could be put to use straight away, the private could be served compulsory purchase orders if vacant for more then a year? No homes should be empty while people are homeless

 

 

2) Modulars V Houses on the Market.

 

As the picture shows a three bed in Fingal cost 100,000 less on the open market to buy then the cost of producing a modular home. This is an instant purchase and means you are in a home in a week. What if the govornment bought on bulk or used NAMA to buy these properties and hand them over to the state? What if they forced a discount in the interest of the public good? Instant homes, cheaper then modulars.

 

 

3) Tenancy Rights, Forever Homes and Conditions.

 

 

Modular Homes create a space in between emergency accommodation and a home, private rental,  social housing or a mortgage. You have no tenancy right in Modular homes. They are stated to be temporary so what happens after the 3 to 6 month wait and there is no home to go to? Do they become semi permanent for families but striped of your rights, a contract and security? Will there still be council workers coming out to check if your a good little homeless person, no causing a mess or kicking up a fuss?

 

Normalising Homeless rather then building secure and stable homes is not madness, incompetence or something we just have to do cause it’s a crisis. They serve two very clear purposes for the ruling class.

 

  1. a) They force people to keep their heads down. If you are in a secure home you can fight for your rights in a stronger position. If you are in homelessness you are one call away from time on the street and from your kids being threatened to be taken from you. You are pushed to the edge of society and they ruling class think then you will be easier to control. There is also a social stigma, you are a homeless person, you are different, you are hopeless. Finally they also create and entrench a hierarchy. The worse of the worse are on the street, the next in a shit hostel or b&b, the next in a decent place, then the best will be in modular of the homeless. This best or worse keeps people in line and forces them to fight each other rather then focus their anger to the causes, the state, the developers, the landlords and the rich.

 

  1. b) It forces conditions down. Bringing in Modular will put pressure on the tiers above it. Social Housing will be at least you’re not in Homelessness, Private Rental at least you’re not in Social, Mortgage at least you’re not in Private Rental. Permanent crisis, benefits the ruling class as they can tell people there lucky while they make a profit from there buying and selling of homes, from their evictions and from their cosy state contracts.

 

 

4) Privitisation

 

Modular Housing is the continued privitisation of services and the continued creation of a homeless industry. The majority of homeless services are either provided by charities or private for profit companies. They all make money from homeless or work by a business model. If that fact is sick in itself. The building and management of homeless services is all being privitised. Peoples are making money from building shitholes and people are making money from treating tenants like shit in services.

 

Modular Housing cements this, and even more so it creates a long term secure for investors who manage these properties. Denis O’Brien and site serve were noted early in the modular homes process and the vultures are circling.

 

Privitsation also means that homelessness is here to stay. The logic is Homeless People are needed to continue running a company or charity, to continue making money and to continue in operation. This pressure filters through to the government who in-act legislation and services to manage homelessness rather then get ride of it.

 

We should be working to end homelessness, it is the aim of every housing and homeless action group, should be the aim of every charity and should be the aim of the govornment and the state.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Despite all the challenges there are homeless families who are brave taking the fight forward. Despite all the challenges their are families coming together and fighting together rather then the easy and understandable idea of fighting for your own alone. Despite all the challenges there are housing and homeless action groups who believe those affected should lead the fight back, who support those affected and are willing to do radical direct action.

 

The cosy consensus on modulars is starting to crack, the service providers looking to fill their own pockets, the companies looking to make some money, the parties who see it as a chance to buy votes in their communities are all going to take a kick from the resistance to modulars.

The system is cracking, decent secure housing for all is the mantra, time to fight for it.

Journalism, Media and Power

http://www.rabble.ie/2016/04/12/our-profession-is-on-its-knees/

Great reporting from Rabble, a great Key Note Address from Gemma O’Doherty on the state of Journalism.

The full text is re-posted below prefixed by a 3 observations on the event itself and considerations for us all interacting with and in the media.

 

  1. The Conference itself: The conference was entitled: Journalism in Crisis, hosted by University of Limerick. The Journalism school is moving from a vocational focused or practiced focused school to something which brings in a bit more critical theory. Henry Silk of Critical Media Review https://criticalmediareview.wordpress.com/ and Fergal Quinn are both recently working at the department and did great work bringing the event together. The balance of working journalist, academics, and critical left leaning activists, combined with a big boost of students gave the conference good energy as conflict (of the academic kind) was always under the surface of the day.
  2. The Establishment V Rest divide: The Divide,  encapsulated by Gemma’s speech, was stark. Media professionals, from broadsheet, radio and television were quick and vigorous in their defense of their profession. This defense took two forms a) general criticisms of the media as a whole and specific media outlets were countered with personalising and spirited defenses of individual journalists and their ethics. b) Media Bias itself was not recognised and the connect between ownership, framing and practice, much acknowledge by the room was simply ‘not seen’ by the journalists on a whole. In fact their simply seemed to be two parallel discussions happening in many instances, between a defense establishment and an outside.
  3. Great analysis of media: limited strategies for alternatives. Maybe this was not the purpose of the event, but the high level of critical analysis of the media, from power, structures, framing, bias and content analysis was in stark contrast to the poverty of alternative models, be they organised media outlets, alternative voices, relationship between media practice and movements. Chairing a panel on new media and radical press was an interesting and engaging discussion but the sheer lack of variety and new space within this sphere was very much on show and the conversation itself seems hardly to have moved forward in 5 years as a result. While there was a high level of common understanding (outside of the established journalist profession) on the problems with the media, bias, framing, power etc, there was a sharp disconnect within these forces on what type of alternative to build. The quote of quality content will bring success shitting sharply against considerations of financing, what voices are included, what structures and what relationship to the anti-establishment space which has both political and cultural manifestations.

The Words of Gemma O’Doherty

“I’d like to thank Henry Silke and University of Limerick for organising and hosting this important conference. Reporters who work at the coalface of investigative journalism in Ireland need the support of our colleagues in academia, especially when it is so lacking within the media itself.

These are very difficult times for journalism in Ireland. Those of us who investigate corruption in public office make ourselves and our sources extremely vulnerable to those in power who would intimidate us, monitor our activities, threaten our safety and try to silence us. In return, we receive almost no support.

We work in an era where a culture of fear and timidity stalks many of our newsrooms. It has bred a generation of journalists who behave less like dogged agents of the public interest and more like compliant diplomats and spin doctors constantly looking over their shoulders and towing the party line for compromised or connected bosses.

They have forgotten or chose to ignore the true function of our still noble vocation: to hold power to account, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, to defend the public’s right to know, to seek the truth and report it.

In this new media landscape where many Irish journalists can no longer do their job without fear or favour, the greatest loser is democracy. A robust, independent, adversarial press is the lifeblood of a functioning democracy and a free society.

In Ireland in 2016, we have nothing close to that.

When Enda Kenny came to power in 2011, he promised a new era of integrity, accountability and transparency. But as a journalist, when you ask questions of a state press office, you hit a brick wall, more often than not.

I would argue that press freedom and the ability of the media to hold power to account is more compromised today than at any other time in the history of the state.

This has no doubt contributed significantly to the crises we have in policing, health, housing and water services.

This new era of cowering journalism has come about largely, but not only, because so much of the media has been allowed to fall into the hands of so few.

The fact that many of us now refer to the biggest owner of Irish media as ‘Redacted’ speaks volumes. One big voice has far too much power and prominence in our small country.

Not all media moguls exert the chilling effect that some do over their newsrooms. I spent most of my 17-year career at INM working for Tony O’Reilly. He invested in decent journalism and good writers. He understood newspapers, and while he was not perfect, by and large he left editors to get on with it.

And then there is Denis O’Brien.

Denis O’Brien who attempted to bring in a so-called journalists’ charter that challenged the right and duty of reporters to engage in adversarial journalism.

Denis O’Brien who was reported to the United Nations for making legal threats against journalists.

Denis O’Brien who last year managed to silence most of the Irish media from reporting a speech in our parliament.

Denis O’Brien who threatened to sue a website whose sole purpose is to engage in satire, that most precious form of free speech.

Is it healthy for democracy that someone who takes such an interest in silencing our right to speak be in control of so much of our media? I don’t think so.

I don’t make any distinction any longer between RTE and the O’Brien-owned media.

If anything, I would hold more disdain for the state broadcaster because it is failing its public service remit so blatantly and really does deserve the name it is more commonly known as on social media: ‘RTEBIAS’.

It seems to disregard the fact that it is accountable to the public who pays so that it may exist.

There are so many examples of this, it has almost become the rule rather than the exception. We saw it in its often farcical coverage of the general election which undoubtedly affected the final poll; in its bizarre reporting of the Mairia Cahill case, Slab Murphy and the Special Criminal Court; in its failure to cover allegations about Finance Minister Michael Noonan and his role in the foster care scandal; in its refusal to cover cases of gross corruption in our garda force including the cover-up of children’s murders.

There is no doubt that a culture of institutionalised complacency now dominates RTE where some presenters earn more than David Cameron and Barack Obama, and certain journalists see themselves as celebrities, appearing on the cover of Hello-style magazines and red carpets in designer dresses.

When they are not interviewing each other, they’re rolling out the same clique of voices and seeking to rehabilitate people who’ve been disgraced in the public eye.

At the time of my firing, I was immersed in many stories about corruption and wrongdoing in the criminal justice system. I was working with bereaved families whose loved ones had been killed in violent circumstances.

These families were alleging grave wrongdoing in the gardai but when they approached certain journalists in establishment outlets, they said their cases were not being taken on board and they got the cold shoulder.

In most cases, their stories were compelling but the families were left with a sense of abandonment that the very people who should have given them support failed them.

In doing so, they also failed the public interest.

One of the cases I’m investigating is that of Mary Boyle.

Ireland’s youngest and longest missing person was six when she was murdered during a visit to her grandparents’ remote farm in Donegal in 1977.

The authorities have failed to bring the chief suspect to justice amid allegations of garda corruption and political interference in the case.

In March, her twin sister Ann and I visited the Washington Congress to lobby for justice for her as that door has been firmly shut here.

Despite countless requests to RTE to cover this important visit, they refused to inform the public about it over the airwaves.

Was this out of fear that it might bring the Phoenix Park into disrepute and shine a light on corruption in the gardai? One has to wonder.

So what is the effect of an obedient, cowardly media on society?

Joseph Pulitzer once said that a cynical, mercenary press would in time produce a people as base at itself.

There has certainly been an attempt by some segments of the media to dumb down the population, and when citizens start to challenge authority and engage in dissent, they refuse to report those challenges fairly. A vivid example of that has been the bizarre coverage of the Irish Water movement and the so-called ‘sinister fringe’.

Next week, a journalism conference in Kerry will be opened by Noirin O’Sullivan who has presided over a litany of scandals in her time as Garda Commissioner. Joan Burton and Frances Fitzgerald are among the other speakers. That really says it all.

We need to smash the cosy cartel that exists between the press, power and the police in this country because it is so damaging to the public good.

I would like to mention some notable exceptions in the Irish media who do try to prioritise the interests of democracy in their journalism: The Sunday Times, Examiner, Irish Daily Mail and Irish Times, and of course the brilliant Broadsheet and Phoenix.

But trust in media is understandably on the wane because the public know that so many of the issues that matter most to them are being skewed or ignored.

However, there is a bright side to all of this. This is a very exciting time to be a journalist.

As many traditional newsrooms become more focused on protecting plummeting revenues and their friends in power, investigative journalists are finding new ways to tell stories and release information and high quality content into the public domain by cutting out the middle man.

The internet has been our greatest resource in this regard.

In my own area – corruption in the criminal justice system – we have seen how documentaries like ‘Making A Murderer’ can have such a huge impact and do a lot of public good in the process.

Publicly-funded investigative websites are beginning to challenge old media where editors hold off running stories for fear of upsetting the establishment and denying the public their right to know.

Here in Ireland, a team of our finest investigative reporters have set up a new website called righttoknow.ie to push for transparency and accountability in public life.

We must embrace this change and realise it is for the betterment of our profession and society.

But we also need to start looking at our media colleges and asking how the journalists of the future will protect the public interest. Will they be boat-rockers who challenge authority and dig until they get answers? Will they have the tenacious rat-like cunning that proper editors once demanded of their reporters? Will they chase yarns as if their lives depended on it? Hopefully all of the above but it is the job of our universities to nurture those characteristics in them.

I’ll finish with the words of Joe Mathews, a former reporter with the LA Times, when he spoke about how the public interest was so endangered by the crisis in journalism.

“Much of the carnage of the ongoing media industry cannot be measured or seen. Corruption undiscovered. Events not witnessed. Tips about problems that never reach anyone’s ears because the ears have left the newsroom. With fewer watchdogs, you get less barking. How can we know what we will never know?”

Our profession is on its knees, but it is worth fighting for. We have a duty to fight for it. We need to stand up for courageous journalism whose primary focus is the public interest. We need to read it, to buy it, to support it, because without it, the health of our democracy will remain in terminal decline.”

Launch of Need Abortion Ireland

From the Magdeline Laundries to Mother and Baby Homes; from Contraception bans to Child abuse; from disciplining and shaming of women; from Sexism to Sexual Assault; we have an entire country build on sexism and the oppression of women

Solidarity to all those involved and all those facing our barbaric women oppressing laws. Love, Solidarity, Decency, Support, Care and Radical Action, all in one with Need Abortion Ireland.

http://needabortionireland.org/

“We now know it is not sufficient that women die in order for the state to repeal its abortion law. We now know that the State North and South will isolate, prosecute and torture vulnerable people irrelevant of public opinion. When confronted with such an attack on our health and on our lives, endless political debates are not enough, action is needed.

Faced with a State that refuses to provide for the healthcare of women, we must facilitate access to this healthcare ourselves and provide the conditions for people to practice this care. Medical abortion is a unique example of this, as it is healthcare which can be practiced easily and safely at home, with a 2 day course of medication.

needabortionireland.org will support women in accessing abortion pills in Ireland through Women Help Women. We provide practical help in accessing pro choice healthcare, a live text support service between 6pm to 9pm everyday, and care packages to make people’s experience of abortion as comfortable as possible.

Until the law acknowledges our rights, we and others will continue to break it to facilitate a duty of care to those living in Ireland.
www.needabortionireland.org

2016 General Election Reflections

Donegal x1

Five Key Points from the Election

1) A Right Decline

Firstly many commentators have spoken about the end of civil war politics, the decline of the combined Fine Gael and Fianna Fail vote. This is hugely important as a historic idea, the bedrock of the state, the rotation of two and a half party system, but I don’t think it is that useful an analysis for what voting, beliefs and organising potential are in Ireland. The explicit right being kicked by right populism seems a better explanation for what happened on February 26th 2016. The explicit and open right, Renua and Fine Gael took a beating. Renua, the PD reincarnate and closer to the US Republicans with their three strike crime rule and flat tax proposal were eliminated despite a large effort to promote and build them through the media. It is hard to know what that means, did Renua go too far with their message? Where they just poorly organised? Is Fine Geal, simply, a safer beat for the right and right wing voters in a time of increasingly threat from the rabble below them?

Fine Gael also took a serious hit loosing 10.4% of their vote. They lost a rake of seats with that and could of lost more. Criticisms came in from within their own party on the ‘keep the recovery going narrative’. This was an arrogant and brazen politics. It fitted a very narrow class position, appealing predominantly to Dublin based upper classes, the middle class working in multinationals in Dublin and prosperous parts of Munster in particular  with export orientated industry. It did not reach many other groups. Their vote did not collapse in any one part of the country so overall it seems to be a general vote decline, so this analysis is fuzzy at best.

Total Right Seats 50

Major questions for the right will be how they consolidate electorally post-election and what will be type of tactics and strategy they will take towards dissent of any kind. Electorally will the target be sustained pressure on the populist right to join the fold? Will they focus on the politics of consensus to go with this? Or will they go on the offensive, attack on the populist right, attack on the left or a more direct attack on the movements and communities driving a challenge to their authority?

2) The rise of Right Populism

“Messianic times, when the an old order breaks without the new order having yet taken shape are necessarily out of joint. They are propitious to rumors, wonders and upsurges. Propitious also to charlatans, quacks, and potions of illusions”.

On the right then where did the votes go? Right wing populism of various hues seems to have taken from Fine Gael and the explicit right of Renua. Fianna Fail ran a dual strategy, responsible leadership and popular policy positions, abolish Irish water, more housing, support for rural Ireland. This was classic Fianna Fail; they tried to appeal across class lines and tried to create a broad base, they tried to be all things to all people, again. Their message seemed to play on a classic right populism: I am against the establishment but responsible, unlike the mad left, I am fair but not going to take your stuff like them mad socialists. It seemed to half work. They gained 6.9% a recovery to 24.3% of the vote, close to piping Fine Gael for top spot. Despite this they are far away from recovering to their pre-crash levels.

The rest of the right populists are generally not given enough credit for the sophistication of their machines. The Independent Alliance has management to pull together a significant set of right independents with standing behind the ‘Maverick’ figure of Shane Ross. A lad who quibs about bankers and corruption but is an investment banker himself topped the polls in his south Dublin heartland as a ‘straight talker’ and a guy who gets the system and knows what’s wrong with it. He is clearly also an intelligent organiser to have pulled together 6 TD seats, including a number of new seats, despite the alliance itself being still loose with no wipe etc. The other major block of the populist right sits around localist personalities. The Healy Raes in Kerry throw us a mix of social conservativism with a localism which takes the outcome of austerity: poor local services, cuts, and depressed industry and shifts the blame for this to the establishment in Dublin and rural Ireland not getting its fair share rather than the class and systemic nature of these symptoms. Lowry is another fine example of this right wing populism, he added to his vote over the weekend as he was increasingly attacked in the media, because of his ability to stake a debate on Lowry as Rural V Dublin Centric Ireland. What is under estimated by most of the liberal commentators and many on the left is that localist right populism in Ireland is not based on stupidity. It is based on strong rural networks, electoral machines, sophisticated analysis of power in their areas and a clientilism that operates to protect and alleviate the worse impacts of austerity on communities. This is a manipulative power, but an effective power none the less.

One independent for example in Longford-Westmeath spent 7 straight days out building and strengthening flood defences in Athlone. That is something any good socialist would be expected to do but while moving the organising on the group to collective action and bringing in a dose of systematic analysis of why the floods happened and who is affected, a critique of capitalism.

Total Populist Right Seats

  • Fianna Fail 44
  • Independent Alliance 6
  • Independents 11
  • Total 61

Will Fianna Fail play a cat and mouse game with Fine Gael for as long as possible. A minority Government or Grand Coalition. How will the politics of stability face off against consensus and against division within the ruling class? What will right independents do and what is there next step beyond the pale of their local electoral power bases?

3) The cementing of a small liberal bloc in Irish Society

A small liberal block has cemented in Irish society at this election. This has three standard bearers, the right wing labour party who have abandoned and been abandoned by their working class base and have held onto a few leafy suburbs, the centrist liberal Social Democrats who retained their three seats, coming close to taking a fourth in Dublin Central and the Greens who returned 2 seats, leader Eamon Ryan and a second seat in the Museli belt of South Dublin.

Within this clearly a small vote, their focus on consensus the loose concepts of fairness and equality combines with a politics of no red lines issues, and quite honestly no backbone. This did not seem to be enough for many working class and power communities but appealed to a concentrated core in around Dublin and the South East of Ireland.

Votes

  • Labour 7
  • Social Democrats 3
  • Greens 2
  • Independent Katerine Zappone 1
  • Total 13

4) Sinn Fein: One foot on both sides of the line

Sinn Fein are always controversial to discuss. Are they or aren’t they on the left? Which way are they shifting? Where do they actually stand?

In mant respects the only certainty with Sinn Fein is that they are well organised, well-resourced and do what Sinn Fein feel they need to do to build Sinn Fein. They are also still the largest perceived force on the left by large numbers of working class people. They are also a force that has no problem moving in any space they see practically useful, from movements, to radical politics, to Trade Unions, NGOs and state institutional power. All of their logic is guided by national unity and national ambition rather then principle or radical social change.

They improved on their last election results going up by 3.9& and ending up on 23 seats. They won seats in particular where they had strong candidates and/or strong group with a history of local community work. Despite this their final vote of 13.8% was actually down on local and European election results. The vicious attack on them by the media had to have played apart. Are they also mistrusted after the water charges campaign, did votes break to the left of them? Did they run a too moderate campaign, little talk of Wealth Taxes and increased high earned tax and punishing the bankers unlike the previous election?

Total Seats 23

What do Sinn Fein do next? If the defining logic is national unity and national ambition there politics will be defined by pragmatic power building. If they feel they have lost too much group to the left they may push left, if they feel they have lost a centrist nationalist vote to Fianna Fail, they move even further to the centre and even right. Whatever happens it seems they will try to dominate opposition to the ruling coalition (whatever form it takes) and re double their efforts to build power across the entire Island.

5) Left Organising V Politics of Aspirations

The Left have had a very mixed election. From the highest proclamations of a left lead government, of hope and change, of an Irish Syriza and/or Podemos, of a new message and progressive majority, to bitter infighting and attacks on elements of the left, to a final result which saw some breakthroughs and successes with other flops. What I want to get across here is that the left only did well, without fail, in areas where they have built a track record of work, have built a base and where they had well organised and well planned election campaigns.

The AAA-PBP held their three seats and gained three. All three were in areas where they have good local election results, had built a base for years and had organised effective election campaigns. They built bases in many other areas and came close in Limerick and North Dublin Bay but did not break through. The other left seats, 4 independents for change, all long standing and popular T’D, Thomas Pringle, Catherine Connolly and Muareen O’Sullivan point towards wins in areas were bases were already there or profiles were already high.

Left Votes (excluding Sinn Fein 23)

  • AAA-PBP 6
  • Indos4Change 4
  • Independents 3
  • Total 13

There were no magic breakthrough for any candidate on the left. No shock tidal wave of hope and change, no Right2Change Community Candidate breakthrough, no magic bullets or special movements.

Surely above all else this has to mean the end of magic aspiration politics. The ideas of you believe hard enough and you will suddenly have change. It has to mean an end to charlatan politics of intellectuals and Egos who have taken a movement and tried to turn it in magic project of self-promotion. Surely the route forward is to say there is no easy solution, no easy win.

We have to fight together to achieve any change, we have to organise long and hard in our communities, we have to reclaim those communities and all other sites of struggle and we have to open out the class struggle the fundamental line that there are and will continue to be huge divides in society that we have to fight on. The problem is that sectarianism and aggressive scapegoating are as likely as critical reflection among many of the left big wigs. Something that has be taken on and challenged by communities and grassroots movements.

Support for the Luas Workers

don__t_scab

Turned a Rant Supporting the Luas Workers into a new blog piece after a little break

I genuinely understand why people are being played on with this case. It is a case of pay increases rather then resisting a firing, or a closure or an eviction or homelessness. It has the sympathy factor washed away. The problem is sympathy, the sort where we go ‘oh dear look at them poor people’, is not actually the best politics or the best basis for solidarity and collective action, it is dis-empowering and hierarchy creating.

What we really want, to start things off, to win basic demands here and now is at least 1) a universal floor, the idea that all people have value by what they do and b) the belief that collective action and groups standing together to fight for decency, proper pay, living or life itself is actually a good thing.

The propaganda is out to get us on this one, so here is the rant and best to all the striking workers on Thursday.

Scabs

Support the Luas Workers on Paddy’s Day.

Many people earning feck all are trying to be turned against each other on this one. Lots of usual disinformation, 50% increase, nope sorry lads negotiation position for 5 next five years (now at 27%), lots of points focused and comparing the workers to others, and nothing looking at the profit of the company itself, lots trying to blame the workers when they took these measures causer the management wouldn’t negotiation, lots more genuinely snobbery, but they don’t have a degree therefore arn’t important (what decides important, surely a major transport system that gets 10,000s to where they are going is important…

how and never,…. a few points to deal with

1) Tabloids are screaming “but you don’t earn that much and these Luas lads are showing you up.”

Yes most of use are earning feck all. What does that have to do with the Luas workers? They didn’t come put you on a job-bridge, cut the dole, hire you on a zero-hour contract or cut your pay. Companies did that, managers did that and governments did that.

Maybe the Luas lads are actually doing a good job or all of us? Fighting for decent wages, like we all should be. Using strikes and withdrawing their labour cause that’s the only thing that works.

2) “If I did that I would be fired”

Yea maybe that’s the problem, maybe no one should be just fired for fighting for the basic right to live and work in dignity. Maybe it shouldn’t be easy to just replace people with someone starving on the breadline. Maybe everyone should have decent work rather then being pitted against each other and maybe the action of the workers is what you should be thinking about. Join a Union, get organised and then they can’t just fire you

3) Luas workers are stupid monkeys just pulling levers.

This should be called for what it is snobbery. It is disheartening because it comes from many people earning feck all and being screwed with themselves, it also comes from genuine snobs who think they are simply worth more then these people.

What decides what is important in society, is a degree the measure of important work? If there were a million more accountants would it be more useful, are defined as more valuable because they have a degree because they wear a suit? Are other things that keep a country running valuable? Cleaners, maintenance, maybe even women who give birth to kids and don’t get paid for it, maybe even people who run vital transport? Is a arms dealer or investment banker more valuable? Are they even damaging?

Maybe we should be looking at value in society at a bit broader, or call it out as based on our bias and prejudice or maybe just maybe above all else all work has value, all labour has value, all efforts of getting up and doing something with your day have some value, as long as they don’t damage the lives of others

…………… Maybe instead of attacking Luas workers, we should stand with them and realised either we are already being kicked too and need something better or that after the Luas workers we will be next.

I know who my enemies are, who cut the wages of my family members, who forced me to emigrate and who chuck families out of homes every day and don’t bat an eye lid…. and they sure aren’t Luas Workers

Respect The Strike
Don’t Cross the Picket
Support your Local Picket
Stand up yourself with your, family, workers, community and everyone suffering along side you.

 

 

 

NEON Europe are Hiring!

The New Economic Organising Network (NEON) is hiring for positions to assist in the delivery of a workshop entitled ‘Systemic Responses to the Housing Crisis: A Strategy Workshop, being held in Dublin, Ireland, March 17th-20th.

NEON is a network of 1000 organisers in the UK draw from grassroots campaigns, trade union organising, community groups, politics and research. It aims to provide support, training, skill sharing and knowledge to build and develop campaigns and movements and create a society and economy based on social justice and equality.

http://neweconomyorganisers.org/europe for more details on NEON Europe, the Pilot programs and future plans.

‘Systemic Responses to the Housing Crisis: A Strategy Workshop’ is one of three pilot programs being run across Europe by NEON. This workshop hopes to bring together organisers, researchers and above all people at the frontline of housing activism, to learn from each other, share tactics and strategy and develop an analysis which benefit both their local/national work and a European response to the housing crisis. The team delivering this workshop currently consists of lead NEON Europe Organiser Guppi Bola, Senior Organiser Huw Jordan, based in London and Dublin Organiser Seamus Farrell.

NEON Organising Team.jpg

NEON are hiring for two positions based on three key criteria, with a total of 2x 35 hours work  positions, with majority of work carried out on the weekend of the event 17th-20th of March (25hours) and the final days leading up event (10 hours)

  1. Translator: Across the 4 day program there may be a need for translation work. This will be a key role during the workshop but also more generally in supporting activists who arrive ahead of the workshop starting. Specific requirements have not yet been finalised but translators for Spanish, Portuguese, French, Greek and Polish are possible needs. Hiring will fit need in this regard
  2. Facilitator. There will be a need for a lead facilitator for the four days. They will also contribute to the design and know thoroughly the workshop schedule and planned content. They will need to balance the needs of diverse nationalities, backgrounds and interests over the weekend, manage the energy and support within the space and will work closely with Seamus Farrell and the NEON staff in this regard.
  3. Logistics: We will also require support on logistical elements of the workshop such as ensuring food is available at the right time, the venue is fully accessible, participants are able to deal with any issues they come up against and someone is at hand to help set up and pack away. You’ll need good event management experience and an eye for detail.

How to apply

Please reply by answering the questions below:

  1. Why you are interested in the role?
  2. Why you are suitable for the role? (focusing on your experience, both general and specific to supporting events)
  3. What you hope to contribute into the future in terms of local/national organising (in particular housing organising in Ireland) and European organising and activism?

Please send your applications to Seamus at seamuspatrickfarrell@gmail.com by 12 noon on Monday 22nd February

Accessibility

The New Economy Organisers Network is absolutely committed to providing equal opportunities for everyone regardless of their background. We value diversity and lived experience whilst also acknowledging the underrepresentation of people from certain backgrounds and life experiences both within our community and wider campaigning movements. We are determined to correct this and particularly encourage applications from people of colour; people with disabilities (including mental illnesses or other long term illnesses); people from the LGBT+ community; and people who identify as working class.

 

If you don’t feel confident enough to apply for this position, please get in touch for an informal chat – we’d be thrilled to talk and it absolutely won’t affect the outcome of your application. Just email Seamus to arrange a call. In order to ensure we are doing all we can to encourage applications for people of all backgrounds we need to collect monitoring data. The questions concerning equal opportunities are optional and your answers will be treated confidentially.

 

Age
What gender do you identify as?
What sexuality do you identify as having?
What is your ethnic identity?
Do you identify as having a disability or long term illness? If yes, please give us further details.
Faith identity
If there is any other information about your background which you feel is relevant, please tell us here (i.e. class background, caring responsibilities)?