The CSO 2016 figures registered 183,312 vacant residential homes in Ireland. With this number of vacant homes, I would argue we do not have a housing shortage. What we do have is an underutilisation of existing houses.
Local authorities seem shy to use the Housing Act 1966 section 78 to compulsorily purchase vacant properties. I believe the Government should set up a task force to use a compulsory purchase orders (CPO) to obtain vacant properties. Some of the many benefits to utilising existing properties are: No need to purchase land, no planning permission is needed, and not least of all, the potential rejuvenation of our inner cities, towns and rural areas.
Further, there would be a reduction of CO2 emissions compared to that of a new build. Properties which are beyond renovation could be sold off to individuals who want to build their own homes. Utilising vacant properties would also prevent a clustering of affordable rental homes (aka social housing) in particular areas.
With grants to upgrade and manage the property, the acquired property could be handed over to the voluntary housing sector and NGO’s providing services for homeless people as they seem better placed to bring these properties for rent. An example of an NGO doing such work is the Peter McVerry Trust.
The Australian state of Victoria (with a population roughly the same as the Republic of Ireland) went into level 4 lockdown for five days on the discovery of five Covid cases. Meanwhile in Ireland, we continue to ‘live with Covid’.
Incidentally, the five cases discovered in Victoria appeared to have their source in international travel. I’m not sure if the travellers concerned were attending essential dental appointments or not.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was interviewed by Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show on Friday night at the half-way point in his five-year contract; he was humble, professional, compassionate, and forthright.
Now 55 years old, he was 24 and married to Jane with one child, when on October 8, 1989, his father RUC superintendent Alwyn Harris, 51, was murdered by the PIRA. He did not add that, at that time, he had only six years service and his father was not just off-duty, as were so many RUC who were murdered by PIRA, as well as on sick leave, but with his wife and about to drive from their home to church, for the annual harvest thanksgiving service, when blown up by a PIRA gang.
Drew said he worked very hard to not be bitter. It was not easy and took a long time, but he asked what would his father have wanted — to see their children brought up in a bitter home?
Asked about forgiveness for the perpetrators, he said nobody had ever sought atonement or forgiveness, and that was a two-way street.
As always, he used no jargon, spoke plainly and directly, with no evasion, and is manifestly a decent, no-nonsense Ulsterman.
We in the Republic are indeed very lucky to have him down here — not least given the sad state of An Garda Síochána which he inherited.
While waiting for the Leaving Cert staff and pupils to receive a vaccine it is inevitable that normal classroom participation will be delayed and some feel that would make continual assessment difficult. So either vaccinate them immediately, postpone the exam, and/or give students a choice of any three subjects which could be accommodated in a truncated year.
This would make everything more manageable and adoption of this system — as with A-levels in the UK — is probably less stressful and is the way to go in the long-term, even if probably an anathema to the Irish language industry because Irish could no longer be compulsory in any circumstances. The percentage choosing Irish as a subject would be interesting.
The Education Minister needs to push this through because, despite being warned 12 months, ago we would be faced with the problem again, teachers and their noisy unions seem to have done nothing to plan for continual online assessment as is practised in universities and in the real world.
JP Daly writes that the Angelus on RTÉ is an ‘abomination’ — ‘RTÉ Angelus bells must be silenced’ (Irish Examiner, Letters, February 13).
The Angelus represents the Christian religious belief which preaches love of neighbour. Hence getting rid of the Angelus gets rid of one minute of a reminder in 24 hours that we should love our neighbour.
That is the basic ethic of our laws and political institutions.
The alternative is to follow the precept that arrogance will get you everywhere and we all know where that would end up.
Not so many years ago, we rid ourselves of the theocrats who believed that were the supreme civil rulers of the people of Ireland. And good riddance to them.
These theocrats have now been replaced by medical experts who have been given a free hand by our timid politicians.
The result is that we have a woeful vaccination programme particularly compared to our nearest neighbours. Notwithstanding this, the level of satisfaction in Ireland with this completely ineffective vaccination programme does nothing other but prove how pitifully informed we are by our timid politicians and moribund media.
Every day we get our daily totals of Covid-related data. Neither the media nor the medics have ever explained what the word ‘related’ means in so far as the Covid-19 virus is concerned.
It’s akin to saying that US president Joe Biden is Irish. He has some connections with Ireland but the relationship is tenuous.
RIP.ie have reported that they have not seen any upsurge in deaths as a consequence of Covid-19.
Where does this leave the daily Covid-related data?
If there was just one positive from the lockdowns of 2020, it was this. We didn’t have to listen to the annual moaning and belligerence of the ASTI during Easter Week.
This is the public service union, which thinks it is the Department of Education, the union which started the policy of insulting the relevant minister of education at its annual conferences, the union which allowed louts shout down the minister, the union that vetoes every proposal.
Back when the financial crisis hit, and the government had to reduce public salaries, most public service unions accepted the inevitable, but the ASTI refused to hold parent /teacher meetings outside teaching hours, forcing many parents who had not lost their jobs during the crisis to take time off work to attend those meetings .The union did a deal which penalised new entrants to preserve the conditions of existing members.
When subsequent pay agreements emerged and when some productivity was asked, the hulabaloo over one extra hour in the week was just unbelievable. When the department attempted to reform the Junior Cert, who blocked it? The ASTI.
But of all the outrageous actions of that same union, their current activity by withdrawing from the talks about the Leaving Cert is the most appalling, and is unforgivable. We are in a national emergency. Where would we be if the health unions behaved like the ASTI?
What is the commitment of the unions of teachers to the wellbeing of their students? Is it not time that the honourable members of the union called a halt to their antics and say enough is enough?
And where are the hitherto vociferous opposition spokespersons in the Dáil while this behaviour continues. I haven’t heard a word from Mr Ó Laoghaire or Mr Ó Riordain.
This union needs to be taken on.
RTÉ is the State-owned public service broadcaster; and it is a non-profit making organisation. Yet, under the Broadcasting Act (2009), RTÉ is funded by “Licence Fee and part-funded by commercial revenue”.
So why does the Government allow RTÉ pay those high earning broadcasters those unjustifiably high salaries? A government move to rescind those contracts is urgently needed.