Updated: 21/12/17 : 04:24:36
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editorial

"... no one was entitled to a free house"

"... no one was entitled to a free house"

By Declan Foley
Australia

Leo Varadkar recently remarked,"... no one was entitled to a free house", as an excuse for the governments outright refusal to provide new social housing.

Obviously the man has no understanding of the history of social housing, beginning within months of the founding of the Irish Free State in 1922. The party to which Fine Gael - somewhat erroneously claim links to - Cummann na nGaedheal led by W.T. Cosgrave, set about a 26 county program of building new houses to replace what were literally slum dwellings, all this despite being in the midst of an inane Civil War, depleting every last penny of the entire millions of cash paid over by the British government after the Treaty was signed.

I suggest  Leo Varadkar visit the Lawrence Collection in the National Library of Ireland. William Lawrence took several thousand photos between 1870 and 1914, in every town in Ireland. These photos show quite clearly the deplorable housing situation Britain bequeathed the Irish government. Not alone poor quality housing, but also an absolute lack of sanitation, the only available water obtained from nearby pumps or spring wells.

I can cite my home town of Sligo where between 1922 and 1950, every substandard house was demolished,the tenants provided with new housing, by the then Sligo Corporation. No Leo, the tenants were not given "free housing" they paid a weekly rent which included Local Rates.

Circa 1960 Irish Local Authorities gave the long term tenants the right to purchase. The prices the tenants paid were not full market value, due to the fact  many of the houses required the provision of bathrooms, and rewiring: neither did the Councils make a loss.

Social housing did more than put a roof over peoples head, it played an enormous role in improving the health and well being of millions. It did create a "real republic of opportunity" for those who existed at the hands of miserly landlords, who took the rent and spent nothing on repairs, let alone infestation by vermin.

Leo has indeed, become so self-centered, he overlooks the fact that the nation is made up of human beings, not all of whom are members of the heartless blueshirt clique to which he belongs.