Last week our local TD's; Tony McLoughlin T.D. Marc MacSharry & Eamon Scanlon voted down a People Before Profit - Solidarity bill to guarantee a Right to Housing in our constitution. This would have followed over eighty other countries that have accepted this legal right. By doing this they ignored the advice of Fr Peter McVerry and the Peter McVerry Trust, the Simon Community and the constitutional convention. 

All this is in the context of the worst housing and homelessness crisis in the history of the state. People are literally dying on our streets. We lost another person to the crisis as they were in the process of blocking the bill. In Sligo there are over 1100 people on the housing waiting list with only a handful of properties available. Whilst not being a silver bullet, this would have been a significant move in the right direction towards opening the space to take the radical action that is needed to solve this crisis. 

What is clear is Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are completely wedded to market solutions which not only don't work - they have caused and worsened the crisis. Asking private builders to solve our housing crisis is like asking foxes to look after the chicken coup. The truth is this crisis suits some people. Those that are connected to the establishment parties by a thousand strings; bankers, developers, speculators and landlords charging extortionate rent. Their actions become even clearer when you realise that up to 30% of government TD's are landlords themselves.

In People Before Profit's latest budget submission we advocate a state building company tasked with building 20,000 new homes in 2018 and purchasing 30,000 more from the private sector. We need to get building quickly and to rebalance rights in Ireland so that people’s needs come before the right of speculators and vulture funds to profiteer.

Please contact your local TD's through Email, Twitter, Facebook and ask them why they want to let the crisis continue. All the while the people of Sligo and Ireland endure unsuitable accommodation, waiting lists, high rents and thousands of children suffer needlessly under the scourge of homelessness.

Nigel Gallagher
People Before Profit Sligo

Home Sweet Home, Right 2 Water, Lets Call it A Movement

Last week saw Political activists, housing activists, concerned citizens, musicians and union officials occupy an empty NAMA property and house homeless people. In effect they have done more for the homeless than Fine Gael, Fianna Fail have done in a decade. The Home Sweet Home group is a broad coalition of housing groups, trade unions, musicians, actors and artists and they should be commended for their act of civil disobedience.

This action has caught the right wing cosy consensus and their media allies on the back foot. The real significance is it exposes the political rights true priorities which certainly is not the homeless but is the divine right of property developers, professional landlords and vulture funds to profit on the misery of a housing crisis.

FF and FG cannot be seen to condemn this act of civil disobedience as it has huge public support and their lies the problem, if they do not act they will be seen to be giving a green light to people taking direct action and illegal occupations of private property and make no mistake there are thousands of political activist’s eyeing up NAMA buildings all over Ireland North and South to replicate Home Sweet Home in their towns.  If the government does act and kicks homeless people out of warm beds and back into the doorways where their sacred market believes they belong, well you can expect another 100 thousand Right 2 Water protestors on the streets.

This battle is an ideological one pure and simple, the right are on the side of private property and profits and the left are on the side of human need and people. Where this ends is up to all of us , if we keep the pressure on the government with radical action, they will be under huge pressure into building more social housing. After 10 years of austerity and huge inequality Ireland has an army of newly politicized activists who can see through media spin and Neo Liberalism. The right 2 water movement saw a broad movement that change the political landscape for ever, Home Sweet Home is just the latest and quite potentially the most significant chapter. The Irish have got used to protest and they like its effectiveness. Now we need to become familiar with an even more effective weapon and that is the power of a permanent grassroots movement with serious demands and expectations. We should keep in mind our vision for Ireland on its centenary year as James Connolly said “Our demands are most moderate  – We only want the earth!”

- Peadar Hopkins - People Before Profit Sligo