People flood clinics as housing epidemic soars: Dublin FWD

Tom Boland (
Sun, 24 May 1998 13:51:19 -0700 (PDT)
=46WD  An Phoblacht/Republican News =B7 Thursday 21 May 1998


     by Michael Pierse

Dublin North Inner City SF Councillor Christy Burke spoke this week of a
housing epidemic in Dublin which has caused the ``flooding'' of his advice
centres. He said a ``monumental'' problem has been allowed to escalate
owing to ``the failure of the present Government.''

Burke said he is dealing with a minimum of ten homeless people per week,
together with a number of difficulties arising from the housing shortage in
Dublin. This dilemma has led him to open a new advice centre in Dublin's
Ormond Square, thanks to the local community. However, he was scathing in
his criticism of the level of political inactivity in countering this
problem: ``If all the public representatives worked in a coherent fashion
they could certainly alleviate many of these difficulties,'' he said.

He was critical of various strategies enacted in the past and also what he
termed the ``pure snobbery'' of certain politicians.

The selling off of public lands to the private sector since 1985 has caused
a shortage of sites on which to build. In recent times this policy was
reversed and it was decided to buy back houses to fill the vaccum. However,
the begrudging snobbery of Fine Gael and some Fianna F=E1il politicians
ensured that any expenditure on individual houses was limited to =A360,000, =
figure is insufficient to purchase any reasonable accommodation in Dublin.

Burke also emphasised the massive problem that homelessness is posing to
the urban climate. He described the conditions in hostels, through no fault
of the staff employed there, as being ``substandard and dickensian.'' There
is the situation where 14 year-olds are forced to go to adult hostels while
their mothers are seperated into children's hostels with any other children
they may have. They are also forced to leave the hostel at 9 am and cannot
return until 8pm. ``The Celtic Tiger,'' he said ``bypasses all these
working class areas.''

A good deal of houses, he said, are still without indoor toilets or
bathroom facilities. The statistics are unsettling. 6,500 people on the
housing list, 8,000 on the transfer list, 2,500 on the senior citizens list
and a 12 month delay on the homeless list.

Housing staff are finding th e situation increasingly distressing. They are
unable to cope with the frustration expressed by many impoverished people
and often end up the targets of agression.

The City Manager John Fitzgerald has pledged to Councillor Burke that a
full report on the situation will be forwarded to City Council, hopefully
in June. Meanwhile, he continues to be contactable at City Hall.

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