Tomás Ó Flatharta

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“Thousands Expected at People-Power Protest in Dublin over the Cost of Living” – Interview with Eddie Conlon

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Des Derwin reports :

Something good, as well as Gene Kerrigan, in the ‘Sunday Independent’:

Sunday Independent interviews Eddie Conlon, Cost of Living Coalition and PBP activist

‘A ‘people power’ movement hopes to see thousands of demonstrators take to the streets of Dublin next weekend, in protest over the spiralling cost of living.

The number of rallies has increased around the country in recent weeks — but next Saturday’s planned demonstration is expected to be by far the largest.

Organised by the Cost of Living Coalition, which is supported by over 30 national organisations, it is sending a clear message to the Government: people cannot afford looming energy bills, and should not be forced to pay them.

The coalition was set up in March by Eddie Conlon, TU Dublin (formerly DIT) sociology lecturer and a long-time activist for People Before Profit.

The Crumlin native was previously involved in the anti-nuclear movement.
“I’ve been politically active since the 1970s, but I’ve never seen such unity in any campaign as this one,” he said.
“It has support from so many organisations and from every generation. This is a huge issue in society. People are frightened. People are worried about the bills that are due to arrive.”

In the UK, a movement called ‘Don’t Pay’ has urged people to cancel their gas and electricity direct-debits from October 1, with over one million people already pledging support. Is the Cost of Living Coalition poised to make the same call to people living in Ireland?
“The coalition is not at this point calling on people not to pay.
“But the reality is that some people just won’t be able to pay these bills. What we need from government is a clear ban on people being cut off for not paying a bills if they cannot afford it,” he added.

The coalition is supported by People Before Profit, with TD Paul Murphy recently throwing his weight behind it.
Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats are backing the movement, as are the Union of Students Ireland (USI) and the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament, among many others.

“As people prepare to turn on their heating in the coming weeks, the cost of energy is about to become more critical than ever,” said Conlon.
“This is about people power. It’s about people coming together to say ‘enough is enough’. We expect thousands of people at the demonstration next weekend.

“I think, since Covid, people have really started to see the cracks in our society and need their voices to be heard.”

The extremist far-right in Ireland have recently tried to associate themselves with the Cost of Living Coalition, making occasional appearances at rallies.

“They have nothing to do with us,” Mr Conlon said. “We have nothing to do with the far-right. We are about unity. What they do is seek to divide people.
“People want to be able to lead a decent life and have their basic needs met without having to pay through the nose for it. The premise of this coalition is to give ordinary people the opportunity to say, ‘we can’t put up with this.’”

They’ll sit in the cold themselves — but they won’t do that when they’re minding the grandkids’

Sue Shaw, CEO of the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament, a member of the coalition, said she has “no doubt” that “momentum is building” around how unaffordable energy bills are becoming. She said older people are particularly worried about the cost of heating their homes in the coming months.

“Two-thirds of older people in this country are solely reliant on the pension. Over the past two years, we have already seen heating oil, coal and turf increase by 137pc.

“The Government is trying to pitch old against young during this situation. But we have decided to all come together in this coalition.

“The accommodation crisis is impacting younger generations more — students in particular, and people who can’t afford to buy their own homes because of high rents. This coalition is about bringing every generation together and being united in saying: ‘We will not put up with this.’”

Ms Shaw said her organisation has already begun to receive calls from worried older people, who have been buying warmer duvets in preparation for the winter, in the hope it will reduce the need to switch on the heat.

Others talk about plans to spend large parts of their days in the coming months in public libraries, as these facilities turn on the heating.

“The anxiety is building. Some older people who mind their grandchildren, because their own children can’t afford childcare, are worried about their bills. They’ll sit in the cold themselves — but they won’t do that when they’re minding the grandkids.”
Ms Shaw advised the Government to “start listening” to the public mood.

“The coalition is not right now advocating people should not pay their bills. But if people don’t have the money, what can they do?

“Older people might be retired — but let’s not forget how much we contribute to society. As well as childcare for their families, older people make up a huge part of our voluntary sector.

“And of course, the Government should also remember that older people are the generation who vote.”
Both Ms Shaw and Mr Conlon criticised “profiteering” by energy giants, who they say are making millions in the midst of this crisis.

“We need price controls on energy. There is major profiteering going on. The ESB are making a lot of money right now,” Mr Conlon said. “There needs to be taxes on the energy companies. The Government just need to start listening to the people. Because the people must be heard.”

The coalition’s protest is due to get underway in Parnell Square, Dublin, at 2.30 pm next Saturday.’


End of article. Note I’ve corrected the time for the march which the Sindo got slightly wrong – Des Derwin

Pretty vacant: a gaping hole in the response to the housing crisis.

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Capital Dock January 2021 – nearly half the 190 apartments in the 22-storey built-to-let tower in Dublin’s Docklands were vacant

Guest post by Des Derwin

The figure of 183,000 vacant dwellings in the state dates back to the last census of 2016. The housing crisis would have mopped up many of these. Not as many as you might think. Half of them. Or at least there are 90,000 vacant dwellings now according to the reports below.

To great surprise Richard Boyd Barrett recently drew attention in the Dáil to the fact that the census figures for vacant dwellings did not include derelict dwellings!!!! 

And the first report below tells us that “Furthermore, there were 22,096 residences classed as derelict in 2021, although this has fallen 7.3 per cent since December 2016.” That is, 22,000 further to the 90,000 vacant addresses.

For some reason several components and figures across the housing movement, and media stories too, have recently raised the outrage of the number of vacant and derelict residences in the country. This is both timely and overdue.

Timely because the state and the private sector have both shown, for all the fanfares and ‘returns to normality’, a paralysis about delivering the number of new houses needed. So common sense responds with, ‘Let’s get procuring, refurbishing and making available these vacant residences right now!’

Overdue because, while the housing movement was and is quite right to put at the top of its demands the need for public housing, built by the state and affordable for rent and purchase to working people, it is a bit of an anomaly that the solution to the housing crisis, building thousands of houses, would not be supplemented by an emergency programme of bringing vacant and derelict dwellings into use.

For three obvious reasons. One, the relative speed at which many vacancies – some even brand new, some local council flats and houses – could be deployed. Two, the avoidance of the waste of having these houses, flats, over-shop places, apartments, derelict buildings and sites, lying empty while building extra new-builds instead of utilising them. Three, the reduction in the energy, materials, new infrastructure and resultant emissions, in comparison to exclusively all-new builds, to address the other pervasive emergency, the climate and ecological one. 

I believe that the recommissioning, the compulsory acquirement if necessary, and use of vacant and derelict dwellings – something that has hardly featured at all on some lists of aims and policies – should be bumped up near the top of the priority aims of the housing movement.  

https://www.buzz.ie/news/irish-news/grant-buy-renovate-derelict-properties-26013226?fbclid=IwAR1dQjb88pjKslf3rOx-Tk6ffn1ROtWnNMcGlKk85Oq67OY-oG65fqtt_mg

https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40787289.html

https://www.facebook.com/groups/416618381831880/permalink/1992243947602641/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/416618381831880/permalink/1995976103896092/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/416618381831880/permalink/1973460046147698/

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/almost-20m-in-vacant-and-derelict-site-levies-owed-to-dublin-city-council-1.4773831?fbclid=IwAR3dT3Onx3tKjEgPyTCaHCmrArfgbz74yUkw1-mvahQzVSIrAkl5vdVoqg8