HOUSING CRISIS AND FAILED CLONLARA EVICTION
The proposals in respect of social housing in this budget are grossly inadequate. Housing is a fundamental right of human beings but shamefully the Taoiseach has written to the EU seeking permission to borrow the money required to build social housing. Ireland does not have the sovereignty to house its own people.
There are 140,000 people on local authority waiting lists and in the first four months of this year an additional 3,527 have been added to that figure. This probably underestimates the situation because people now availing of the housing assistance payments, formerly rent supplement, are being removed from local authority lists. We need an emergency house building programme of at least 10,000 houses per year to address this situation. The Government’s target of 47,000 houses to be provided between now and 2021 will fall far short of dealing with the problem. In 2021 we will be, as we are today, in a housing crisis. There is an absolute necessity to declare a housing emergency. The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Coveney, said publicly in July that he believed we had a housing crisis. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Donohoe, signed off on an emergency measure to ensure that public service pensioners were deprived of their pensions under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2015 but this Government refuses to declare a housing emergency which is absolutely necessary to halt evictions generally and in rented and mortgaged properties. The Government, through the banks it owns, Allied Irish Banks, AIB, and Permanent TSB is effectively allowing evictions. It is also allowing them through other banks, and landlords, including vulture funds. These evictions are continuing. As a result, many unfortunate families have been devastated by suicide.
MINISTER MUST INVESTIGATE CLONLARA EVICTION
A shocking eviction was attempted last week in Clonlara in County Clare. I demand that the Minister for Justice and Equality instruct the Garda to investigate the conduct of security companies at that failed eviction of a family. Will the Minister establish what security companies were involved and did those security firms possess an execution order for taking possession of that family home? Did they present an execution order to the owners of the property? If they had no execution order or did not present it to the family, were they guilty of trespass? Were all the security firms involved in this horrific event licensed according to the law? Had all the individuals involved in this attempted repossession legal authority for their actions? Were all the individuals registered employees of the security firms. Were children unlawfully detained during that incident? Were all involved acting on behalf of the Bank of Ireland in which the State has a significant shareholding? This was a shocking and horrific attempted eviction. Thankfully, it failed. In a year when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of 1916, when we promised to cherish all the children of the nation equally, what would Pearse and Connolly and the signatories to the Proclamation think of the eviction battering ram of 2016?
I compliment the family, their friends and neighbours, and the anti-eviction task force which successfully stopped this eviction. People power stopped this eviction. People power will force this Government to stop evictions and to declare a housing emergency. The sooner the Government does that, the better.