It’s well known that there is presently a housing shortage in Ireland so you would imagine news that the government has fast-tracked planning permission for 600 new houses in Glanmire, Co. Cork would have people praising the decision from the rooftops, wouldn’t you?
Admittedly it’s only a small step towards resolving the multiple issues around homelessness, rapidly rising rents and increasing waiting lists for social housing but it’s progress all the same. And, understandably, it’s not an immediate fix to the situation especially when more and more people were declared as homeless in 2017.
One of the main examples of “whataboutery” on comment sections in the media and sites such as TheLiberal can be found when the topic of asylum seekers and economic migration is discussed. The less empathetic on these forums usually cite the homelessness problem and our long waiting lists as reasons why we should be shutting our borders or deporting those already here in Ireland.
Look after our own first they exclaim, without examining the larger picture or the measures that need to be taken to address the issue. We have the land to build but are lacking a proper, concerted action plan from those in government to ease the crisis. Employment levels are growing and Ireland sits proudly near the top in terms of economic growth within the EU. We are a country that has the capacity and energy to address all these concerns and provide a platform where our citizens should not have to struggle when it comes to maintaining a roof over their heads.
The irony of the announcement surrounding these new houses in Cork was that the very same commentators on TheLiberal, many of whom use the homeless crisis to vaguely shield their bigotry towards refugees, are now complaining that these housing developments will turn into ghettos. The cynicism towards the government taking action, “oh there must be an election coming up”, highlights the fact that no matter what positive steps are taken, some people will never be happy.
In fairness, the culture of mistrust and negative simple-mindedness that is fostered by incessant anti-immigration stories, especially on openly racist platforms such at TheLiberal, means that any new stories which possess elements of hope and potential, are swallowed up by scepticism and bitterness.
Feck News believes that the single, most determining factor on how we should progress as a nation over the coming years, is providing everyone in the country, whether born or migrated here, the opportunity to have somewhere stable to live. Homelessness has gone from being the preserve of runaways and people suffering from mental disorders or addiction, to being driven upwards by the affordability, or lack thereof, of rising private rents and unfair landlord practices.
A strident social housing plan should be the main focus of any government over the next 10 years, be in through new development or proper regeneration of the numerous “ghost estates” around the country. Improvements to facilities and infrastructure in these forgotten zones should be our number one priority.
A thorough and concerted effort on this front will allow us provide the basic tenets of a true, social democracy: a genuine commitment to the Irish people and their needs as well as for those who make the journey to create a life for themselves here. Many of those with a negative attitude towards the latter tend to forget that we were once a country with over 8 million people living on it. We have the space, now we need to find the drive to build and prosper.
Our media should be the cheerleaders for a progressive plan to provide such housing and associated services. They should be ones demanding change and promoting the positive attributes such a plan will bring to our nation. In a world growing more polarised with each passing month, Ireland can be the beacon of hope and multi-culturalism we need to survive the growth of extremism and nationalism.
It is a shame that anyone could find fault or issue with any proactive steps that have been taken to set us on this path, such as this one in Cork.