Op-Ed by Packy Carty
Ireland is in the midst of a housing crisis and its a deliberate government policy. This statement may not be news to the Irish citizens who sleep on the cold concrete of Dublin’s O’Connell Street, it won’t comfort the families sleeping in temporary bedsits and it won’t reduce extortionate rents or keep the bailiff in the balaclava from the door, but it is an important first step as activists that campaign against the many outworkings of the current crisis that we know its causes and who is responsible.
The current crisis in housing affects Irish citizens both north and south and is the outworkings of neoliberal capitalism. Successive administrations in Dublin, London, Belfast and Brussels have pursued a model of housing provision that has commodified one of humanity’s basic necessities, shelter.
Rather than the state providing adequate public housing based on society’s needs, the neoliberal model places commodified housing at the mercy of the banking system and the ‘market’. This for-profit approach to housing has left thousands homeless, thousands facing eviction and thousands more in the grip of rent poverty. It has left Irish citizens at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords, violent state-backed evictions and vulture banks.
The crisis in housing is a class crisis, where one class that controls state and economic power wields that power to dispossess those who create all wealth, the working class. You either benefit from the housing crisis by robbing the dispossessed or you are a victim of the crisis as an ever increasing percentage of your income goes towards keeping a roof over your head.
In fighting back against this unjust oppression Irish Socialist Republicans should advocate firmly the position enshrined in the 1916 Proclamation; “The ownership of Ireland for the people of Ireland”. The only way to end the current housing crisis is to make a home a human right via state provision based on need not greed, this cannot happen in a partitioned Ireland where British imperialism, EU bureaucrats and a local Gombeen elite make political and economic decisions to line their own pockets at the expense of the Irish people.
We must mobilise those oppressed by this system if we are to overthrow it, we must be clear in our activism and in how we apply it, we can not alleviate the crisis nor change the conditions of those affected without state power, the housing crisis is a deliberate political policy it can not be challenged by charity work, only by strategic political activism, the system of class exploitation at the heart of the crisis cannot be regulated or mitigated against it must be smashed.
Make a home a human right must be our slogan