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31 Jan
0

79% of Wages to Rent a Home!

The cost of privately renting a home in the 26 Counties continues to skyrocket.  According to Daft.ie private rents rose by over 11% in the twelve months to Sept 2017.  This dramatic increase in rental prices occurred despite a range of government measures that were allegedly designed to stabilise prices and make renting more affordable – measures that have clearly failed.

Éirígí has put together an infographic to illustrate just how desperate the situation has become for minimum wage workers in what is one of the wealthiest states in the world.  With rents now averaging €1,200 per month, a worker on minimum wage would need to pay out almost 80% of their monthly take-home pay to secure a roof over their heads.

Rent is considered affordable when it accounts for less than 30% of after-tax household income.  The affordability gap between 30% and 80% makes it impossible for a minimum wage household to rent an average home in the private sector.  Even when two such incomes are combined, the average rent will still account for almost 40% of a dual household income.  That leaves just 60% of already low wage packets to pay for food, clothes, heating, medication and other essentials.

A couple on minimum wage with children face an even greater challenge as child-rearing and child-care costs must also be found from within their remaining 60%.  For many such couples overtime, shift work and second jobs are unavoidable necessities.

Unfortunately, this situation is not confined to minimum wage households.  Many other above-minimum-wage, low income and even middle income families are also paying out in excess of 30% of their net income to their private landlords.

Faced with this reality the state has put in place a range of measures that serve as an indirect subsidy to businesses that pay low wages and landlords that charge high rents.  These schemes include Family Income Support, Medical Cards, Rent supports and tax reliefs that are provided to low income families.

Instead of subsidizing employers and landlords, the state need to address the root cause of the problem of unaffordable housing.  The only sustainable way to do that is through the creation of a new system of high-quality affordable housing, where the state will provide a home to EVERYONE who needs a home, regardless of their income.  Nothing else will work.  #PublicHousingForAll

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26 Jan
0

Athlone Needs Public Housing Now!

It was recently reported in the Athlone Advertiser that the proposed development of 33 affordable housing units, which had been planned for a site near Arcadia since 2015, has been postponed. The developers put this down to recently introduced legislation which required them to pay their workers higher wages. This is presented as a valid reason as to why these units cannot now be built, but all it actually demonstrates is the failure of the private sector to either provide affordable housing or provide their own workers with a decent wage.

The Mayor of Athlone, Aengus O’Rourke, is apparently “outraged” at this development and the Council have hinted that they would build affordable housing themselves if only they weren’t prevented from doing so by government red tape. It is becoming tiresome hearing the same empty words on this issue.

Athlone has a severe shortage of housing of all types. There are 2,000 people on the Council’s housing waiting list for Westmeath, 700 of those in Athlone. Very few properties come to the rental market, and because of this the rents are rapidly rising to levels that are unmanageable for most.

Both the private sector and the state have failed to alleviate the housing shortage at any level, but particularly for those on low or modest incomes.  The solution to this is the creation of a new system of high-quality public housing that is available to all citizens regardless of income – Public Housing For All.

Only by building genuine mixed income communities, well serviced with all public amenities such as shops, schools, parks, community centres etc, available to all to be rented from the state at a fair proportion of the tenant’s combined household income, will we have a fair and equitable housing system in this country.

This would not only provide housing for all the people currently on housing lists and living in unsuitable conditions such as B&Bs, but it would provide housing for other workers on modest incomes that would not necessitate them losing a large proportion of their household income to 40 year mortgages as is currently the case.  This is what we should be demanding of all our politicians when they come knocking on our doors (if we have doors!) at election time.

If you’re living in Athlone or the surrounding area and what to get involved with the fight for housing justice get in touch with us today here.

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25 Jan
0

Fake ‘law’ of supply and demand will not solve the housing crisis

“Increase the supply of housing and house prices will stablise” – so says Eoghan Murphy and pretty much every other establishment politician, economist, journalist and ‘expert’.  But do the facts of our recent past back up this statement?

In 1995, after hundreds of years of construction the total housing stock in the Twenty-Six County state sat at about 1.2 million homes.  In the following ten years, a staggering 547,000 homes were built. You read that right. The entire housing stock of the state increased by nearly 50% in just ten years.

So with such a massive increase in supply, prices must have stabilised, right?

Eh…No!

Over the same period house prices actually increased by 270%.  So as the housing stock increased by almost 50%, house prices almost tripled.

The fact don’t lie, but lots of developers, bankers, estate agents, academics, politicians and landlords do.  Everything they are telling us about housing is based upon the central ‘law’ of supply and demand.  But that ‘law’ isn’t a law at all.  It’s actually just a theory and a very bad one at that.  The facts, not theory, show that increasing supply alone will not stabilise house prices or solve the housing crisis.

For as long as government policy is based upon flawed theory, there will be flawed results.  But that doesn’t matter to those who are growing rich off the back of that flawed theory.  And for as long as they keep making money they’ll keep on telling us that the Emperor is wearing a beautiful new suit.

There is a solution to the housing crisis, but it doesn’t involve waiting on the fake ‘law’ of supply and demand to solve the crisis.  The only way to create fair, stable, affordable housing is through the creation of a new system of high-quality public housing that will be available to ALL citizens regardless of their income.  Nothing else will work.

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24 Jan
0

Republic Of Exploitation

 

Unlike the families of Leo Varadkar, Eoghan Murphy and Simon Coveney, most of us haven’t got the money to send our sons or daughters to exclusive private schools or to gift them the deposits for a house purchase.

Most young people who are looking to set up home don’t have the option of tapping the Bank Of Parent for a deposit, but have instead to save it themselves through years of hard graft. And in many cases they’ll never get there, no matter how hard they work – because their wages are too low and their rent is too high.

Varadkar’s off the cuff comments show how out of touch he actually is. His Republic Of Opportunity is only for those that have pre-existing contacts and resources behind them. For the rest of us it’s a choice between a Republic of Exploitation and the airport.

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24 Jan
0

Public Housing For All

Ireland is now in the grip of the worst housing crisis in decades.  On both sides of the border hundreds of thousands of people are directly affected by overcrowding, extortionate rents, substandard accommodation, insecure tenure and homelessness.  This crisis has occurred not by accident, but as a direct result of the housing policies of successive governments.

As far back as the mid 1960s housing policy in the Twenty-Six Counties began to shift away from the direct provision of public housing by the state.  With each passing year the for-profit private sector was encouraged to take on an ever greater role in the provision of the essential public service that is housing.  In the Six Counties the same process of creeping privatisation of housing is also well underway.

Despite the catastrophic property crash of 2008, all of the main political parties including Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Féin, the DUP and Labour remain fundamentally committed to a private-sector led approach to housing.  In fact, in the period since 2008 the private sector has actually increased, not decreased, its’ grip on the housing sector.

Every aspect of the process of housing provision including land procurement, housing design, financing, building and ownership is dominated by the private sector.  As a result countless billions of euros of profit has been channeled into the pockets of the private land speculators, banks, developers, solicitors, estate agents, landlords and other parasites that feed on the misery of others.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  In other countries the state directly provides high-quality, affordable accommodation  to those that need it.  In the city of Vienna for example, only one third of housing is privately owned.  Everyone else lives in housing that is either owned by the city or a not-for-profit entity.  Vienna has been regularly voted as one of the best cities in the world to live in.

The only way to permanently solve the housing crisis is through the creation of a new system of universal public housing, where all citizens would be legally entitled to rent their home from their local authority.  If it works in Vienna, it can work here.

In Ireland the government has the land, the finances, the legal powers and the expertise to build housing high-quality homes that could be rented to citizens at an affordable rate.  But the political will is missing.

When faced with choosing between the people and the banks in 2008, the political establishment chose the banks.  And now in 2018 when faced with choosing between the people and the private property sector, they are once again choosing to sacrifice the people to protect the profits of banks, developers and landlords.

Éirígí, through our Public Housing For All campaign, is calling for:

  1. The creation of a new system of universally accessible public housing that will be open to all citizens who are in need of a home, regardless of income.
  2. A constitutional referendum to give every citizen a legal right to public housing.
  3. The establishment of a major ‘build and buy’ programme by the state to dramatically increase the percentage of housing stock in public ownership from the current low level of just 10%.
  4. Introduction of strict rent controls to protect those who are private sector rental.
  5. An end to all economic evictions.

We are also affiliated to the Campaign For Public Housing,

 

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24 Jan
0

A Democratic Programme For The New Republic!

On January 20th, 2018, Éirígí published a major new policy manifesto entitled ‘A Democratic Programme For The New Republic‘.

It outlines our vision for a future New Republic based upon the principles of Liberty, Equality, Justice and Community;

A New Republic that will put the needs of the many ahead of the greed of the few.

A New Republic that will protect and manage our natural environment for the benefit of future generations.

A New Republic that will be secular, egalitarian and internationalist.

A New Republic that will support our native language and culture.

A New Republic that will provide secure, properly paid employment for everyone that can work and support for those that can’t.

A New Republic that will provide all of our citizens with the housing, healthcare, education and other essential services that they need to reach their full potential.

Click on A Democratic Programme For The New Republic to access a PDF version of the document.  If you like what you read click here to get involved.

 

 

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23 Jan
0

All Ireland Abortion Rights Now!

The partition of Ireland in 1922 established two sectarian and socially conservative states that were designed to protect the interests of private capital and their respective religious majorities. This meant the creation of a ‘protestant parliament (and state) for a protestant people’ in the Six Counties and a mirror image Catholic Church-dominated state in the Twenty-Six Counties.

In the decades that followed, a claustrophobic blanket of social repression descended across all of Ireland. Religious-inspired legislation outlawed contraception, divorce, abortion, homosexuality and state employment for married women, as well as books, films and poetry that were deemed morally corrosive.

Tens of thousands of women and children were systematically incarcerated and abused in a vast network of industrial schools, mental institutions, laundrettes and mother and child homes. And millions more were left with no option but to attend hospitals and schools that were controlled by the various churches.

For half a century this religious reign met little effective resistance, until the 1970s when the winds of change began to stir in Ireland. This was the backdrop against which lobbying began for the insertion of a constitutional ban on abortion into the Twenty-Six County state constitution. Fearing the possibility of a future government legislating for abortion services, the forces of conservatism successfully lobbied for, and subsequently won, a referendum to give a foetus the same, and greater, legal right to life than the woman carrying the foetus.

The Ireland of 1983 was the Ireland of The Kerry Babies scandal, of the Ann Lovett tragedy, of the Magdalene Laundries and of Mother and Baby homes. This was the Ireland of the eight amendment.

Thankfully the Ireland of 2018 is a very different place to that of thirty-five years ago. The power of all the churches has been significantly weakened. Contraception and divorce is now legal across Ireland and the battle for same-sex marriage has been won in the Twenty-Six Counties. The stranglehold by the churches of education and healthcare services is also being slowly released. And momentum for legal, safe abortion services is growing across the island.

Éirígí believes that Irish women have a fundamental right to access abortion services, just like women in virtually every other country in Europe. We, therefore, support the repeal of the eighth amendment and the introduction of legislation that will provide for free, safe, legal abortion services to any woman that chooses to end an unwanted pregnancy.

And pending the re-unification of the country we are calling for the 1967 Abortion Act to be extended to include the Six Counties. The women of Ireland are entitled to, and must be given, full control of their own bodies including their sexual and reproductive organs and processes.

We are further calling for the creation of free contraception schemes in both states and the introduction of a standardised programme of sex education in all schools, regardless of their religious orientation.

Our activists will be playing a full role in the campaign for a repeal of the eight amendment in a referendum that looks likely to take place in the summer of 2018. You can find out more about support for Women’s Rights on Page 10 of our policy manifesto A Democratic Programme For The New Republic

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