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(en) Ireland, WSM anarchist journal - Workers Solidarity #100 - Keeping House Prices Sky High

Date Sat, 22 Dec 2007 18:08:37 +0200

The self congratulatory waffle of business men, the press and politicians
continues even though we are hearing a lot less about the “Celtic Tiger”. After
almost fifteen years of economic boom we are able to look around and think about
what we are left with. Access to decent and affordable housing, one of the most
fundamental issues effecting working class people, is an impossibility for many
of us. For most young people growing up in Ireland today the possibility of
owning a house is outside our reach and keeps us at the mercy of rack renting
landlords. ---- This situation is neither natural nor inevitable. It is the
result of the actions of numerous governments, land speculators and the profit
driven system in which we live. The housing crisis can be traced backed to the
1960s when the two main political parties in the state were bought off by the
land speculators and even the Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, became a land
speculator himself. The close links between land speculators and our business
elite still exists with catastrophic consequences for working class people.

The media likes to paint our business elite and land speculators as noble
entrepreneur’s who create the wealth of society and kindly help the rest of us.
The reality is that these are parasitic scumbags who live off our work and get
sickeningly rich by charging as much as they can for the necessities of live.
Today in Dublin 90% of the land is owned by twelve firms or individual
speculators. They only release a limited amount of land in each year in order to
keep property prices high and maximise their profits, and the extent of those
profits are mind blowing. Each site for a new house nets them an average of
e200,000 which means that when they squeeze 15 houses to an acre they make

Not only does this make it a lot more difficult for the rest of us to find
somewhere to live but also, because the main goal is profit, the quality housing
and our standard of living also suffers. Even those of us who manage to secure a
mortgage are stuck paying money to the banks for the next forty or fifty years
while the banks make exorbitant profits.

Proper planning for communities has been almost non existent. Roads, public
transport, schools, clubs, playgrounds etc have not been provided for many or
the new housing estates going up around the country. This results in gridlock on
our roads in the morning, crowded schools and hospitals and is one of the causes
of anti social behaviour.

The high price of housing forces many of us to spend years renting and lining
the pockets of landlords. The increased demand for rented accommodation has
allowed landlords across the country to increase rents and make conditions
worse. The increase in demand for rented accommodation coupled with the increase
immigration has resulted in a return to the style of slum tenement housing that
is associated with the 19th century. Landlords take advantage of vulnerable and
desperate people by squeezing as much money out of them as possible. It is not
uncommon for landlords to fill run down houses with bunk beds and charge e70 per
bed in dangerous, unsanitary and unpleasant conditions.

Of course none of this is really surprising. The aim of businessmen, land
speculators and landlords is to make as much money as possible and their friends
in government are usually glad to help them.

It’s clear that we can’t rely on politicians to sort out our problems, we have
to try and solve them ourselves. Working class solidarity has proved an
effective means in the past to oppose ruthless exploitation. Rent strikes,
squatting and property occupations can force rent to be lowered and also
pressure the government into increasing the supply of social housing. Democratic
and vibrant tenants associations can give communities the confidence and ability
to stand up to landlords and the state. A trade union movement, freed from the
shackles of social partnership, has the power to mobilise massive numbers of
people behind a campaign for decent affordable housing. It’s only when we come
together and organise that we can effectively oppose those who exploit us and
fight for better housing and the world that we want to see.
Workers Solidarity Movement - Anarchist communist organisation in Ireland
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