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29 August 2002 Edition

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It has become clear since the 26-County general election that voters were sold a pup when presented with the Fianna Fáil and PD manifestos. The coalition partnership have reneged on commitments to education and health, and now its failures on housing have been highlighted by Focus Ireland.

In a hard-hitting report, the charity says there has been a total failure to build social and affordable housing in the state, despite the provisions of a Planning Act that is now over two years old.

Up to 20 percent of all private developments can be set aside for social and affordable housing, according to the act. It aimed at a total of 25,000 such units by 2004 within the 26-County state. Just over 6,000 of these have been built thus far. In Dublin, 2000 units are in the planning stage, but not a single one has been built.

"Developers are slow to discuss social housing with local authorities, but I don't think the government has put any pressure on them," long-time housing campaigner and Focus Ireland president, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, said.

Inaction on the issues of emergency accommodation, affordable homes and spiralling private rents will lead to "huge social problems", she warned.

Currently, there are 54,000 throughout the state on local authority housing waiting lists. These waiting lists increased by 35 percent between 1999 and 2001. Rents in Dublin have increased by 53 percent between 1998 and 2001. Over a third of people in Cork and Dublin caonnot afford housing.

This is not an issue which should depend on the philanthropic nature of speculators (and this is very much in doubt), or on the ability of the 26-County government to deliver on its commitments (in doubt, again), but one which should be enshrined in human rights legislation.

Policy making on housing has been dictated for too long by those whose primary interest is profit, not social need. It is in their interests to minimise social housing, therefore keeping property prices at their highest.

The right to a home is a basic human right, and if this government fails to uphold it, then it must be held to account.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1