The Irish Republican Socialist Party [IRSP] wishes to put on record our opposition to the slashing of Sligo Borough Council’s housing budget. Currently, the situation in Sligo in relation to housing is at breaking point, with over 1200 people on the Borough and County Council waiting lists. To deal with this growing problem the government has instructed local authorities to lease derelict houses belonging to property developers on a long-term basis. The IRSP sees this ‘strategy’ for what it is. It is a further attempt by this government to come to the aid of their friends and cronies. Under the initiative, local authorities are responsible for the upkeep of the property during the leasing period. This is obviously a very beneficial arrangement for the owner. It is plain to see that the inspiration behind the leasing scheme was not a concern for those in desperate need of housing, but rather to help Fianna Fáil’s supporters through the recession until the market recovers.
Stating his opposition to this recent government proposal, Sligo IRSP representative Ross McNamee said:
“This situation will undoubtedly get worse as more and more families struggle to meet inflated mortgage payments. It is totally unfair to put people in a situation where they must take up the leasing offer or be bumped down to the bottom of the waiting list. The leasing initiative offers no security for tenants, little opportunity for those who aspire to own their homes and only serves to destroy community spirit. This must be seen in the wider context of government policy, like the bank bail-outs. Why is it that funding for housing is being slashed, with no money seemingly being available for the homeless and vulnerable in society, yet when failed institutions like Anglo-Irish Bank get into trouble there is no limit to the amount which can be spent? This contradiction is made all the more contemptible by the fact that it is Fianna Fáil who encouraged people to get onto the property ladder during the boom and to pay these massive mortgages. It was their policies that have led to mass unemployment and to more and more people feeling the full effects of this recession and applying for social housing.”
“There is no excuse, with an estimated 300,000 properties lying vacant in Ireland, for the state not to acquire these empty properties and provide secure and suitable housing for people. The leasing scheme is designed to come to the rescue of Fianna Fáil’s developer friends, while simultaneously acting to disrupt communities and pressurise families into an arrangement that is not right for them, one that offers no stability or prospect of purchase. We in the IRSP have been active on the housing issue with our ‘House the Homeless’ campaign and will continue to work until a satisfactory resolution is found. It is now time for these properties to be acquired by the state and for stable housing arrangements to be made for those in need. People should not be bullied and threatened into this scheme through fear of losing their position on the waiting list. This proposal has nothing to do with meeting housing needs, the current crisis is being used as a flag of convenience for Fianna Fáil to bail-out their loyal supporters .”