Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Two Irish Green Party “Rebels” Plan to Vote for Landlords in Dáil Éireann – Thousands of Tenants Will be Evicted

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It seems certain that Green Party “Rebels” Neasa Hourigan TD (Dublin Central) and Patrick Costello TD (Dublin South-Central) will vote with FFFGGG coalition colleagues allowing landlords to evict tenants who will become homeless. A bad housing crisis will become worse.

Here is a quote from Deputy Costello’s website : “Ireland needs quality public housing – we need to build more homes, for all ages and incomes. Yet there is very little building happening, either public or private. This needs to change”.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Threshold paints a grim picture :

The CEO of Threshold , John-Mark McCafferty said his organisation “currently works with thousands of individuals with notices of termination”.

He added that “evidence from the Residential Tenancies Board and our frontline staff indicates a significant number of evictions are pending”. 

McCafferty said: “In 2022, Threshold became aware of 5,444 newly-created termination cases, where 57% of notices were issued due to the landlord selling, and in 17% of such cases, the landlord and/or family member moving in.

“The ban on evictions is not a ‘silver bullet’. The ban was to provide ‘breathing space’ for positive changes and improvements in supply to take place.

“Unfortunately, we are yet to see the outcome of Government action in this respect. The decision to end the ban at the end of this month will likely make a bad situation worse. It is disappointing and detrimental.”

As a result of landlords still being able to serve notices to quit, Stanley said it is difficult to predict if there will be an increase in notices to quit once the ban ends on 31 March.

“The moratorium didn’t stop anybody serving a notice to quit, so I’m not sure there’ll be an influx in notices, but there may be because of the way these things are communicated.

“Sometimes landlords would think that they couldn’t serve a notice to quit and that actually wasn’t the case.

“So while I don’t know what the market will do, I do know that we will start to see an increase in the number of people coming into homelessness.”

Perhaps we all need to study 19th Century Irish history to develop some 21st century practical activities on solving the problem of homelessness and parasitic private landlords? We need to increase pressure on the state to take direct action in favour of tenants and mortgage holders. The principles of the 19th Century Land League – Three Fs: fair rent, free sale, and fixity of tenure – do not apply to tens of thousands of tenants in the Ireland of the 2020’s. Rents are uncontrolled; sale of a house means tenants are thrown out of accommodation through no fault of their own; and tenants have no worthwhile tenure rights. Here is a description of a 19th Century Irish mass movement :

The Land League publicized the evils and the injustices of the Irish land system, they provided assistance for the evicted and helpless by building Land League huts and distributing money which had come mainly from America, they kept the people informed of their policy, which was to force out the landlords and give the land to the people. In April 1880 a general election was held, and Parnell found himself at the head of a powerful group at Whitehall, who were united in their aim to achieve justice for Irish tenant farmers. Gladstone, the Liberal leader, became Prime Minister and was prepared to introduce a new land bill. But in the meantime the land war continued in Ireland and it reached its most significant point when Captain Boycott, of Lough Mask House, Co. Mayo defied the League. Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott was an unpopular English landlord who moved to the Ballinrobe area in 1873 after an inheritance allowed him to take a thirty-one year lease on three hundred acres near Lough Mask. He also became an agent on the nearly one thousand five hundred acres estate of Lord Erne. There were 38 small tenant farmers on Lord Erne’s estates near Lough Mask and Castlebar. In September 1880, he and his family were reduced to a state of helplessness and found themselves cut off from their neighbours by the boycott- system, which Davitt and Parnell to a lesser degree had approved

One notorious County Mayo landlord was called Boycott – the word entered the English language :

Parnell was in sympathy of such an attitude towards those who refused to cooperate with the Land League. On the 19 September 1880, he spoke to a large crowd at Ennis Co. Clare: “When a man takes a farm from which another has been evicted, you must shun him on the roadside when you meet him, you shun in the street of the town, you shun him at the shop counter, you must shun him in the fair and in the market-place, and even in the House of Worship, by leaving him severely alone, by putting him into a moral Coventry, by isolating him from the rest of his kind as if he was a leper of old-you must show him your detestation of the crime he has committed. ……. ” By this ‘boycotting’, and other methods, the Irish farmers stood up to the landlords.

Charles Stuart Parnell.
Captain Boycott and family being escorted out of Ballinrobe by the Constabulary on his way back to England after being ‘boycotted’ by the people.

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