December 4, 2014

Homeless problem could be alleviated by action from wealthy people of vision

Posted in Irish Independent · 62 comments ·
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When my Granny, a Cork publican, was trying to clear the bar at closing time, she’d roar at the lonely, half-cut farmers who were slow to drink up: “Have you no homes to go to?”

Of course, they did have homes, they just didn’t want to go home. They were bachelors, lots of them, and they didn’t want to face yet another evening on their own, freezing, both locked in and locked out at the same time.

The child in me never understood their reticence to leave but, of course, I can see now that they needed the company provided by the pub, the cards, the darts, the fire and the other bachelors, who like themselves, came in every night for friendship and human contact.

Loneliness can come in many guises. These men may have been lonely, but they did have a place to call home. Can you imagine not having a home?

Just imagine living on the streets, with no place to go all day or night? One of the overwhelming feelings must be loneliness. When we think of homelessness, we think of the cold, wet, hunger, violence, but rarely do we consider the emotional aspect. Recently, I gave a talk to help raise money for the Simon Community, where I was lucky enough to hear from homeless people about what it is actually like.

The recurring theme from these testimonies is the fact that the homeless are invisible to most of us, me included. I have stepped over countless people in sleeping bags. I have averted my gaze, fearing to catch their eye. I have answered my phone just to avoid any human contact and I have felt uneasy about fellas begging under ATM machines.

Maybe we do this because we feel that these people are not like us, their suffering is different. But everyone starts with dreams and hopes. The homeless must’ve imagined a different future. But as evidenced by the man who died this week only yards from the Dail and on one of our most expensive streets, we can all hit rock bottom.

The lack of a “roof over the head” could be solved without too much difficulty, as it is only the extreme manifestation of a profoundly dysfunctional property market, where the street is the ultimate, lamentable destination for those for whom the society isn’t working.

Before I listened to the stories of the homeless, I satisfied myself that a huge amount of the problem were self-inflicted by heroin and alcohol abuse. But having heard their stories, the drugs and the booze and anything else that numbs their daily experience are the consequences, not the causes of their plight. In many of the cases I heard, the cards are stacked against people from the start.

Many people who end up in sleeping bags started life in institutions or were in foster care from a very young age. It is quite likely that their parents were close to the bottom of society, too. Lots of people who leave prison or mental health institutions with nowhere to go on their release can end up homeless. Obviously, living on the streets is a vicious cycle of violence, poverty, cold, ill health, everyday boredom, loneliness, and drugs and more booze and more drugs.

It isn’t hard to see how the most resourceful of people will drown in such circumstances.

While many people (3,000 according to the last census) end up in the alleys of Dublin, it is clear that no one chooses this and there are common experiences in most homeless people’s lives.

They almost all started out poor. They are not often well-educated and many, from what I could see, were in abusive relationships either at home or in subsequent life. There is a significant amount of mental illness on the street, which is exacerbated by drugs and booze or maybe vice versa.

In recent years, the recession has had a huge impact. There are new homeless people, those who have had a stake in society, with a house, a job and status but who have fallen through the cracks and find the journey from security to the street shockingly rapid.

This morning, I walked past the Iveagh Buildings in Dublin, built by the Guinness family. When you look around Dublin you see many great initiatives undertaken by wealthy Victorians to alleviate the suffering of their fellow Dubliners.

We have lots of wealthy people in Dublin and as the economy improves the number of wealthy will increase. As the rich grow older, being rich doesn’t really become the driving force, the issue after a certain amount of money becomes legacy. What did he do with his cash? Was he just rich or was he also far-sighted?

These questions become important to the very wealthy as they appreciate that being a man of vision gives you far more status than being merely a man of money.

Against this background, maybe we could re-create the old Victorian notion of City Fathers – influential people who could do something about the city’s problems off their own bat, rather than waiting for the State?

If the Victorians could address social and economic problems facing our city, like accommodation, clean water and basic education through private philanthropy, why not our generation?

Think about how great many buildings in the US are financed by donation from wealthy New Yorkers such as wings of hospitals and libraries? In my neck of the woods in Dun Laoghaire the local library, the Carnegie Library, was built by the Scottish/American industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Why not do something like this again? Why couldn’t a wealthy man build a legacy by housing the very poorest in the city?

It is hard to imagine a better epithet for a wealthy person than alleviating the plight of his fellow citizens. This is the type of stuff that history is made of.


  1. michaelcoughlan

    “Against this background, maybe we could re-create the old Victorian notion of City Fathers – influential people who could do something about the city’s problems off their own bat, rather than waiting for the State?”

    Hi David,

    Why don’t you ring Dennis O’Brien and tell him all he has to do is to reduce his expected ROC from his investment in Topaz from a rapacious 16% to 8% and allow the lower end workers take home more.

    Then ring Michael O’Leary and tell him the next time Ryanair makes 500m in one year ask him to divide up 50m of it to the bottom 5000 workers which would give them an extra 10k take home in the wages.

    On second thoughts don’t waste your time. The next time your standing in Molesworth street facing Fail eireann wait until the icy wind is blowing hard in your face pull out your c%ck and take a piss. It’s the only way a person can keep warm on that street with the people in the “house” you are looking at in control of the place. It must be obvious to you also that your activity would be about as useless as trying to convince O’Brien and O’Leary of the outstanding merit in this most excellent article.

    sincerely,

    Michael.

  2. tomahawk

    if only we had a church body who had lots of land and fine cut stone empty buildings and acres of land in the city and who owed the populous loads of redress money and who had a charitable ethos whose teaching said something like ‘And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.’……………just not in this life

    • ps200306

      Funny you should mention that — I was just about to remind David that his concerned Victorians were primarily church people. Many of those involved with the poor still are today. Unfortunately not enough people give a rat’s ass for the church *or* the poor.

    • Gearoid O Dubhain

      The fact is that the Churches have been providing hostels for the homeless for decades.

  3. rcly123

    Heard this on the radio on Sunday night while driving back up to Dublin:
    http://www.npr.org/2013/10/04/191618910/can-you-code-a-better-government

    I can’t see a clear connection, but I wonder could you get an… “adopt a homeless person” thing going (not that you’d actually “adopt” them, or that they are comparable to a fire-hydrant) but could you feed them a sandwich? give them a dry place to talk with someone for an hour? give them a chance to learn something?… I don’t know?

  4. SLICKMICK

    Wealthy Irish people have never been known for their generosity. Most charity work is done by the average Joe. Chuck Feeney has given more than the Irish elite ever will.

  5. Tony

    There’s a simple reason why our wealthy aren’t as generous with their money in the way philantopists like Feeney and millions of his countrymen are. It’s called welfare.
    When the welfare state was created, the onus was taken off people to help their fellow man, and taken up by the state. In fact the creation of the welfare/nanny state has ensured that not only do people not need to help others, they grow up with the opinion that they don’t need to because “the government will look after them”. In fact for most of us, taking a defined portion of our income and donating it regularly to homeless / charities / good causes is never something we even think of, because “the government looks after them”.

    I’ll take a chance and say that the wealthy Victorians referred to in the article were most likely British, or of British stock, and would have seen the need for charity, while their Irish counterparts were too busy stabbing each other in the back. But it wasn’t all altruism. Factory workers were housed in tenements by companies simply because they needed somewhere to live. It wouldn’t do to have your staff arriving for work smelling off dog piss and dragging their ever growing families behind them.

    In a society where the state has taken on the responsibility to “look after the poor and homeless”, and takes more than half the earnings of those who might otherwise be inclined to do it, there will never be a philanthropic culture. As soon as we look at homeless people as the governments problem, and not ours, those poor people are screwed. Unfortunately, the growth of the welfare and nanny state has meant that the many generations of Irish people grew up with the belief that the government knows best, or the government will look after it, and so never took on that responsibility themselves.

    The system is what defines the culture. And unfortunately, ours is broken.

  6. It’s sickening to see so many homeless people while we still have quite a high housing vacancy rate – both in the cities and as a nation as a whole. The government and construction industry are carrying on as if these empty homes exist. Dublin City had a 10% vacancy rate in the last Census and it would still be quite high.

    • I meant to say: ‘carrying on as if these empty homes don’t exist’
      I think the government are now spending less on rent allowable (because of landlords raising rent and taking on private renters) when it should be more.

  7. DB4545

    Tomahawk you got it spot on. The archbishops are pontificating again today about the homeless crisis. A few solutions?

    1. How about bringing some portacabins into the grounds of their comfortable palaces and major landholdings and house homeless people there as a temporary measure?
    2. How about stop using vast church resources to defend and harbour the filthy animals in clerical collars who abused defenceless children and divert those resources to the homeless instead?
    3. How about asking some of the tax exiles to pay their fair share of taxes in the Country that nurtured their businesses and generated their business wealth instead of the Netherlands and Portugal?

    Wait I think I see a pig flying over a blue moon.

  8. Mike Lucey

    The phrase, a snowball’s chance in hell, comes to mind.

    I visit my daughter in Brighton regularly and always make a habit of buying the Big Issue from one of the vendors. I also quite often have a bit of banter and comment on their often only true friend, their faithful dog. If I ever ended up on the streets I most definateley would have a non judgemental dog by my side.

    Rather than hope in vein for the likes of DOB or MOL to share their wealth with the homeless maybe we should do a little more ourselves. A kind word can mean a lot to a lonely soul.

  9. Pat Flannery

    The better off Irish farmer and merchant classes watched their fellow Irish countrymen starve to death or flee the country in obscene numbers, estimated at over 2 million out of a population of some 8 million, between 1845 and 1850.

    It was not Trevellyan who “took” the Irish corn by force it was the Irish merchant classes who bought it from small tenant farmers desperate to pay their rents to avoid eviction. It was a merchant class, whose descendants are now the “better off” merchant and professional classes of Ireland, who shipped it out of a dying country at enormously inflated “famine” prices to English industrial towns. In other words our current business and professional classes are descendants of the famine “gombeen men”.

    We can expect no more from the descendants of this “better off” class than what they demonstrated between 1845 and1850.

    • Gearoid O Dubhain

      You are just being silly with that comment !
      #The fact is that it is addiction which is the rrot couse of most homelessness.

    • coldblow

      From Crotty’s Ireland In Crisis (1986):

      “…That was followed by further legislation which, in the course of a few decades, effectively transferred the ownership of the land from some 10,000 Anglo-Irish landowners to Irish farmers, of whom some 20,000 graziers acquired about half of it. Property in Irish land, which had been confiscated by the Tudors from the clans and conferred on the ascendancy, garrison class, was, in this way, transferred to a larger, but still relatively small, farmer-grazier section of the Irish people.”

      I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I think you can get very good second-hand copies from Amazon.

      • Pat Flannery

        Ray Crotty was a great man. I was in St. Kieran’s Kilkenny with his son, also named Raymond, where Ray senior had once studied.

        I will try to get a copy of his “Ireland In Crisis” on Amazon. The true history of Ireland is the history of its land ownership, in which I am very much interested.

        Thanks coldblow.

      • EugeneN

        All of this transfer was post-Famine of course. So not relevant to Pat Flannerys claim that “rich Irish farmers” were hoarding food.

    • Deco

      In modern Ireland, gombeenism is an urban feature.

      And it is more sinister than it ever was previously.

      It manifests itself, at the point where it exercises the maximum damage to society.

      It manifests itself in the FIRE economy. Finance Real Estate Investment. The “property industrial complex”. It is responsible for enslaving people in mega-mortgages, and in creating housing shortages in a city that is mostly less than two stories high.

      Modern Gombeenism is nice and shiny, and comes with an impressive brochure, supportive state policies, and endorsements from Brussels. Soon it will be rolled out across the imperial realm.

    • EugeneN

      This revisionism is largely nonsense. The administration of the time was British, the Land largely owned by the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, the dispossessions caused by the absentee landlord. Thats not a nationalist myth, it was reported at the time, and caused bitterness after. And Trevellyan definitely did take the corn, even if it was then passed onto a merchant class ( most of it Protestant of course).

      Of course it wasn’t a real famine, in real famines the producers ( farmers) survive and the non-producers ( non-farmers and the urban) don’t. So the State was protecting food transferred from producers to non-producers, and that includes a lot of Dublin for instance. Which might explain Dublin 4 revisionism on who was doing what to whom.

  10. tomahawk

    how many houses does it take to palace an archbishop?

    https://www.google.ie/maps/@53.3650206,-6.2543301,18z?hl=en

    • DB4545

      Jesus H Christ Tomahawk that is some parcel of land with three nice palaces attached. I didn’t think there was that much green space left in North Dublin. You could land a small plane on that piece of real estate. Tolka Park would probably fit in it 30 or 40 times over.It would make most robber barons green with envy. Click on the link above people and then listen to those hypocrites lecture the good Citizens of this State about homelessness.Jesus wept.

      • tomahawk

        about 40 acres

        • DB4545

          It looks bigger than the block of land that Trinity College sits on. David asked the question “Why couldn’t a wealthy man build a legacy by housing the very poorest in the city?” Who knew that the archbishops had the answer to the city’s homeless problem every time they put the key in their own door every night? I reckon there’s more chance of spotting Martin Luther nailing his 95 thesis to the Main Gate in Drumcondra this Christmas than the homeless being housed anywhere near the place. But I’ll be happy to be proven wrong.

    • coldblow

      Tomahawk

      Do Irish mammies (as David calls them) want their sons to be priests any more? If not, why not? If a son of yours rose to archbishop would you be torn by conflicting emotions: delight that he had finally arrived in Pleasure City (where many knock but few are admitted) or disapproval that his neighbourhood was too leafy? And who does the lecturing these days? (Clue: there is a lot of it.)

      • tomahawk

        coldblow Will need a few more clues as I dont know what your actually talking about!
        However I do know that if my son rose/sank to archbishop I would have no conflict of emotions

  11. Grouchomarx

    Nice article David but a bit soft on the real solution. Destitution is the lot for all who don’t conform to the will of capital. We are no longer living in a society or anything that resembles one.
    As ex Fedral Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, famously bragged, keeping workers “One paycheck away from homelessness,” seems to be the goal of the current breed of greedmongers.
    Real and meaningful change from the top to the bottom is required rather than handouts from the super wealthy after their conscience is pricked. I do admit that Quaker capitalism would be preferable to what we have now arrived at but the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity need to be restored through real democracy with great urgency.

    • michaelcoughlan

      “Nice article David but a bit soft on the real solution”

      I know. Professor hone-a-scam in the CB was talking through his h@le recently about thin markets and insufficient supply side response in new houses being developed. He didn’t tell you that the policies he brought in of restricting mortgages to a much more conservative loan to value ratio now the horse has bolted has locked in prices which can be paid by first time buyers below the cost of production for decades to come.

      Nor did e tell you that when nama off loaded its properties en-masse to vulture funds (to suit the govt agenda of de leveraging its balance sheet) instead of nama developing the properties themselves that it contributed to lack of supply.

      The vulture funds will sit on the dev properties and off load them when the prices are favourable which is why David I suggested that an 80% cgt on undeveloped gains should be brought in to force the co%ksuckers in the vulture funds to develop the properties thereby increasing supply and bringing down rents at least not to mention creating jobs and an increase in the velocity of money.

      Michael.

      Michael.

      • Colin

        Michael,

        We need clarity. We need to know what kind of Ireland we want. Do we want an Ireland where an average 3 bed semi costs 7 times the average annual salary of the average 30 year old single income family? Or do we want it to be 4 times? We need to know what is fair, define it, then tweak the market accordingly.

        Regarding production costs, they must be kept down as much as possible. We can’t return to the days of unskilled labourers going home in a taxi via the pub, bookies, takeaway and off licence every Friday with €800 in their back pocket. We must innovate.

        We certainly need to reduce site costs. A tax on land, Crotty style would be a good start to flood the market with land.

        As for NAMA, I agree, the biggest case of market interference malpractice the world has ever seen.

        • michaelcoughlan

          Hi colin.

          I agree house prices 4 times salary and also conservative policies proposed by the CB. He must act to increase supply of houses to achieve the goal however. I just don’t think the gubuernment really care about it.

        • DB4545

          We certainly can’t return to the days of unskilled labourers spending their wages in that fashion and supporting the local economy. We can’t have peasants getting above themselves. Who knows they may have even spent it on a house or food or making a decent life for their family.Better that the money swills around the Galway tent and then moves offshore out of our economy and out of reach of the taxman.

          • Colin

            Then put your money where your mouth is and the next time you hire unskilled labour to do work on your property, insist they charge you €20 per hour, no matter if they ask for a lot less. I mean, we must make sure the publican, the bookie and the taxi driver have their snouts in the trough.

          • DB4545

            Colin,
            At least with unskilled labour I get to make that choice and I have no problem paying hard working people a fair rate and I have put my money where my mouth is. Unfortunately I don’t get to make that choice with the professional cartels when I buy property, need healthcare or legal advice. In relation to unskilled labour this was the least of our problems. Do you really think all unskilled people have money to squander in the areas you mentioned or would you just prefer to see people ground into the dirt?

          • Colin

            Not now because no one is paying them inflated wages anymore. Not all of them did, but most of them did. In fact, they used to boast about blowing €150 on a night out.

            For the record, I’ve never been to the Galway races.

  12. Adelaide

    Instead of ‘wealthy people of vision’ how about a ‘society of vision’?
    The sentence I take from David’s article is “find the journey from security to the street shockingly rapid”. On the mark, Ireland is becoming a ‘sink or swim’ society, or rather a ‘sink or scam’ society, but this is what the Irish people want, we are all grown adults living in a tiny country with a tiny population where everybody is either related to each other or knows of each other. The government did not cause this man’s death, we did, there is no enemy to point the finger of blame at, it is us, it always has been us since Independence, we are the people on this tiny island, it is our actions that make our society and we have failed miserably. The simple cause of the Irish’s downfall is that the Irish despise each other. It is a country of spite, and it will end up as a failed state, unless the Irish have a change of heart.

    • michaelcoughlan

      “The simple cause of the Irish’s downfall is that the Irish despise each other”

      Never was a truer word spoken. It’s ALREADY a failed state.

      Michael.

      • DB4545

        I don’t think that’s true Michael. People try to do their best to bring up their families. The French reckon we lack a sense of outrage. We absolutely tolerate nonsense that would bring most societies onto the streets. Once a century something seems to provoke radical change in this Country. I hope its soon.

  13. Deco

    We cannot even get the rich to pay PAYE in this country.

    They engage ins charity social functions a PR stunt to cover up the persistent effort they put into tax reduction.

    • Colin

      Deco,

      I remember Michael O’Leary standing outside government buildings about 8 years ago with a giant sized cheque written out for revenue for approximately €14m. All he asked Bertie to do was stop dithering and stop wasting people’s taxes. Cheque was kindly accepted, advice was categorically rejected.

      • michaelcoughlan

        the cheque was for cgt and you can be sure he wouldn’t pay it if he didn’t have to.

        • DB4545

          I’ll stand corrected Michael but as far as I know he does pay his taxes here unlike some mentioned and even if he is a self confessed “obnoxious little ar**hole” he has been right about about some of our idiot politicians. I’ve already mentioned the tax exiles but I can understand their attitude in some ways. If your operating in that zone and you see the strokes that go on with politicians you probably don’t want to see your resources squandered and trousered by these wastrels.
          Some years ago I was in the company of the CEO of a major Japanese Corporation. They had just opened two factories in Wales. I asked why they hadn’t considered locating in Ireland. His response was that he would have had to pay “too much for the sleeve” i.e. brown envelopes. Apparently at that time when the genuinely hard working people at the IDA had landed inward investment a politician would be hovering in the background anxious to smooth the way (for a fee). I wonder how much investment was lost because of this? Some of the recent revelations which have come to light give an idea of the scale of the problem. I hope its a thing of the past.

          • Gearoid O Dubhain

            You are right about O leary and tax.

          • Deco

            I believe that one of those billionaires who is tax non resident has a large house in Ballsbridge, that does not contain a kitchen.

            The super-rich in Ireland are a collection of liars who are happy to corrupt the political system, and the media.

  14. dwalsh

    Hi David
    On the matter of American philanthropy; think about the criminalisation of homelessness in many American cities today; and the fact that it is also a crime to feed the homeless in many American cities today.
    Think about a homeless military veteran arrested and imprisoned in a private for-profit factory prison, for sitting on a park bench in a veteran’s memorial park! Think of a couple of million homeless military veterans scattered across America…comitting suicide at an average rate of one per hour.

    I think it would indeed be a good thing if the wealthy Irish were to do something privately to help the homeless. However, in my opinion the best thing they could do would be to use their power & influence to see to it that our politicians provide adequate national resources to deal with the inevitable casualties of our society.

  15. Colin

    Apparently, it has come to light that Mr Corrie sold 2 houses which were given to him. So, he was not homeless as we understand it. Why does this man deserve any sympathy? Why all the hand wringing? You cannot help people who cannot help themselves.

  16. SMOKEY

    Political correctness gone mad, that is what has allowed your streets to be filled with degenerates. In my day they were called bums, winos, tramps, beggars and thieves. The understanding with the police was, you go to the mission and hear a little sermon and get your soup and bread. No public disorder, no crapping on the sidewalk, no shooting up or public drunkenness in plain view of normal citizens, and no aggressive behaviour of any type. You were on the lowest rung of the ladder, your were on “skid row” and your were treated that way. Guess what, it worked.
    When you give a junkie or wino a “right” to panhandle wherever they please and use terms like “homeless” instead of bum and tramp, you move into the politically correct arena and end up with streets like San Francisco or Dublin. You want your junkies and gypsies, you can have your junkies and gypsies. Good luck with the makey uppey softy softy Casper Milktoast, “they have fallen on hard times because of the crash in property” approach. It will destroy your citys. And it has already started to rot your souls.

    • DB4545

      Of course. How could we have got it so wrong Smokey? They clearly all need to be marched off to a camp that has “Arbeit mach Frei” over the entrance. I guess that didn’t work out too well either when it was taken to its illogical extreme. Could I possibly point you in the direction of the 21st century you seem to be stuck somewhere around the 19th?

      • SMOKEY

        Shouldn’t you be at a “protest” somewhere holding your hands up shouting lefty liberal lives matter?
        Typical response from the liberal handbook, call them a Nazi, or a racist. This is so obvious and you expose who you are instantly. Now, go eat shit and die.

        • DB4545

          I’m not left wing. I’m conservative on financial issues and libertarian on social issues. But it didn’t take long for the thug to come out in you. Typical of the keyboard warrior gung-ho with a keyboard and your mouth and usually spineless in person. You have yourself a nice life in the 19th century and hopefully you’ll come and join the adults when your manners and education permit.

          • SMOKEY

            You have insulted me twice now, you don’t get a third chance. If you would like I can show you in person what my spine is like. I live near Dungarvan, can travel to meet you anywhere, anytime. Sound like a plan? Or is it you who is the “chickenshit” hiding behind his computer screen? Hmmmm?

          • DB4545

            I’ve responded politely to your rants twice. Like most cowards bullies and thugs your comments were targeted at people who are on the margins and easy victims. I can tell you now pal I’m no victim. I have long experience dealing with the foul mouthed and foul-minded. I live in the Dublin area, please feel free to make contact.

          • DB4545

            If you really want to meet up Smokey just check out me out on youtube “Mick the Taxi Man”. I’ll see you in the rank next time you’re up in Dublin.

    • StephenKenny

      But I’ve never see a successful solution to this, beyond throwing the people onto some else’s patch. This isn’t so much a solution as a ‘kick of the can down the road’ as eventually, as has happened in much of the USA, the same people get thrown back.

      I wouldn’t support a reversion to 19th century methods of dealing with poverty, and with people who simply don’t care, or share your financial or consumerist ambitions.

      For myself, I can understand those who just walk away from it all, and live on the streets. They own nothing, they have nothing to concern themselves with. But probably more importantly, they are not part of anything, they don’t belong anywhere.

      Some may say that they’re just parasites, living off the tax payer, and in a very trivial and simplistic way, that’s true. But anyone trying got argue that ‘market forces’ or whatever, should be allowed free reign, would be wise to look at company law back in the day: There was most no limited liability; bankruptcy simply meant going to a debtors prison; creditors had no protection, and the tax systems – what there was of it – didn’t allow for loan defaults, unpaid bills, etc; insurance barely existed.
      So if your business burned down, you almost certainly went to debtors prison. If a supplier failed, or your bank failed, you failed with them – there was no government protection against many things that we take for granted.

      In the last 25 years, we’ve built a system that is so systemically corrupt, so narcissistic, so breathtakingly dishonest, and in many ways so plain evil, that not only are there no answers to any of these problems, but we increasingly can’t even talk about them in public.

  17. Gearoid O Dubhain

    I am really surprised at the attitude David is taking to this – it seems to be early Victorian – keep our taxes low for us wealthy and we will take care of the poor with our charity – Noblisse Oblige.
    ” There is a significant amount of mental illness on the street, which is exacerbated by drugs and booze or maybe vice versa.” A significant amount of mental illness follows up from the ravages of addiction..something advocates of legalised cannabis might bear in mind. And a further reality is that many on the streets will have been housed and re-rehoused and received emergency assistance from the authorities. There actually is a point where the authorities cannot do anymore than they are doing. Would more hostel space help prevent unnecessary deaths from cold and damp conditions ? probably, but many people on streets prefer the risks of sleeping rough than sleeping in hostels. It is a very difficult problem and one that seems common to most large western cities.
    One reality is that everybody has legal rights and that includes the right not to be subject to detention in safe places because we think it is for their own good.

  18. nh1999

    Surprised to see an ill-informed and populist article from you David. The reality is that the most generous and charitable nations on earth are those that have people that are both wealthy, religious and with lower taxes. It is well established that the US donates the most. But to they have an income tax rate above 50%? no. do they have a budget at the end of a recession that increases tax on people above €70,000. so people should not be surprised if higher earners do not do more. Sweden, France for example donate less. But they also probably have less homeless & poor than the US. Regarding the very wealthy – they give a significant amount. I know because i know plenty of people involved in a charity work and the size of the cheques they often write are considerable. What were taxes in Victorian times? I would have thought before the World Wars that taxes were below 10%? The reality is that the elephant in the room is a bloated inefficient government that is running out of other’s peoples money be it the man on the street, the corporate or the wealthy. They’ve pushed each of them as far as they can go. Its time for the government to get efficient or fail.

  19. EugeneN

    to answer this properly we should distinguish between the housing crisis and the homeless, or at least the long term homeless. We should also actually spell out what the problem is and ints.

    The housing crisis is very real and needs more housing supply. The homeless crisis doesn’t need more housing but more resources for people who couldn’t hold down a house if you gave it to them. The guy who died in Dublin had relatives who cared for him and a house in Carlow, but he couldn’t live with them, nor could they be expected to have him because of his addiction. Nor could we have given him a house as he wouldn’t have been able to pay bills, or run the place.

    Actually the homeless need rooms, not houses, and there are plenty of spare rooms around Dublin, not least in the richer suburbs. A potential solution is people taking the homeless in.

    As usual though Irish people prefer to whine about “we as a society” or demand tax from workers but a potential solution which might discombobulate the richer suburbs isn’t thought about, nor imagined.

  20. Kates Postcards

    At which point in the near future are people going to wake up to the fact that the REITs are Enda’s Cromwell?

    We now have people in Ireland who are paid bonuses based on the amount they can increase peoples rents each year.

    People’s rents are going up more in a month than the fashionably unfashionable water charge will hit them in a year, without so much as a wiff of front page reporting.

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