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.

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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