The ongoing, possibly escalating, housing crisis is a symptom of failed government policies, particularly the decision to stop building social housing and to rely instead on the whims of the market, developers, and financiers.
The Government response deepens that crisis. It is inadequate, far too slow and does not reflect the urgency, in thought or act, needed. There is no other issue that leaves Leo Varadkar’s administration so open to the accusation of a “posh boy” disconnect from the lives led by far too many people.
None of those observations are new, but in a world where public debate is all too often a mixture of high-emotion, wishful thinking, and deep, occasionally wilful inaccuracy, it is necessary to restate them. It is especially necessary to restate them in the context of a situation when public protest crosses a Rubicon; when one group imagines it can infringe on the rights of others.
Reports that anti-eviction protestors had planned to forcefully remove government ministers from their homes suggests that Rubicon has been crossed. Political activism and the ballot box are how we express views; attacks on individuals and their families are unacceptable.
Just as Norway’s government responded to the 2011 massacre at Utøya by promising more democracy, our government should respond to this unacceptable threat by accelerating its response to the housing crisis. Even if it has to, as Peter McVerry has warned, change its philosophy to do so.