A Chairde agus gcomrádaithe
With the continuation of the economic crisis, unemployment and austerity in the 26 counties social issues have taken a back seat to discussion about bank debt, sovereign debt and bailouts.
One such social issue, a very core right which republicans strive for is housing.
But in many ways in the 26 counties housing has been taking the back seat for decades. Government policy has seen the end of any development and increase in the social housing stock of local authorities.
The responsibility of the state to provide a roof over the head of its citizens has been replaced with the need to form cosy deals with developers, landlords and speculators in order to enrich the few while hundreds of thousands are inadequately housed or not at all.
The economic crisis as I have said has only continued this pattern.
Last year the Department of Environment announcement what it termed “a radical new departure” in housing provision. Given the fact that what was outlined in the policy document this quote is taken from were nothing new, we must look at how the Department have pursued housing responsibilities since its publication.
The most glaring example is the very handsome deal squared with developers under NAMA that the department heralded as the Social dividend long sought by NAMA’s opponents especially Sinn Fein.
2000 units were to be identified.
Now 6 months later not one person has been housed by the deal and half the identified units have been deemed unsuitable.
But just were the details of this deal.
Really the word deal is misleading because the scheme setup by NAMA and the Department is nothing more than another feathering of the bed of developers who were instrumental in the states downfall.
The government plan to pay developers approximately 15 million euro a year for 20 years and then hand back the units for the developers to do with what they will.
That is an estimated 300 million over the lifetime of this scheme being paid to developers already bailed out by the public through NAMA and for nothing more than a 20 year lease.
We in Sinn Fein are committed to real social housing and state provision. To the true recognition of everyone’s right to housing.
The solution to the problems of the housing crisis and homelessness are within the grasp of the Fine Gael Labour government.
They must listen to us when we demand a real social dividend from NAMA and the recognition of the right to housing.
They must listen to us when we demand a target for ending homelessness, a dedicated strategy to deliver follow on housing and “housing first” and the equality proofing of all housing policy to ensure it serves everyone.
I welcome the motions to be debated on housing this year and encourage comrades to contribute to the discussion on what is an incredibly important issue for the people of our country.