Block this return to tenements - Planning proposal crosses a line

Propaganda played a central role in the last cold war. Americans were shown in a warm family setting, watching TV , enjoying a Coke. 

Their Soviet peers were shown in grey, battery-chicken apartments shrouded in snow. Americans led happy lives, Russians endured lives of Stakhanovian toil. 

One of the early achievements of this Republic was the provision of social housing so urban tenements might be razed. Early governments, hardly radical or socialist, recognised a social cancer and — largely — eradicated it.

A Bartra Capital Property proposal for 208 “shared living” homes in Dún Laoghaire suggests it is time to refresh our understanding of the horrors of tenement life and Soviet battery homes. Under the YMCA-like proposal, more than 42 people will share a kitchen. 

En-suite bedrooms will include a pull-down bed and kitchenette. Residents will have a bathroom but will share a communal kitchen and living area.

There are no circumstances under which a proposal like this should be tolerated in a country as rich as this. It is an affront to personal dignity and an ugly example of what happens when we put property rights above nearly every other principle. 

Any government that tolerates this return to the dark ages of tenement living; any government so bereft of social conscience as to encourage this is not fit for office. This proposal, and the advance of corporate landlords, means it’s time to demand much more of politicians — or replace them.

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