Irish Current Affairs Blog of the Year 2018
|When it comes to housing, our politicians are letting us down|
Here he comes in his shiny new suit, primed for action and full of the joys of life. He wants your vote and he’s ready and willing to engage with you on your doorstep. As long as you don't delay him for too long!
Funnily enough, you haven’t seen much of him for the last five years or so.
There’s football on the telly or you are engrossed in your favourite soap opera and you wonder if you should bother answering the door.
But you should!
Because this is the one time of the year when your local politicians will truly listen to what you have to say.
They are desperate for your votes and some of them are running scared. It’s your chance to tell them what you think.
Such as your disgust that the beautiful green space next to a historic castle, where you like to take an evening stroll, is about to be turned into a four lane urban motorway.
You haven’t spoken to him in five years and maybe it’s time to ask him why he and his colleagues have no imagination when it comes to transport in your city. The medieval streets are clogged and they can never imagine life beyond the car.
Maybe it’s time to tell him how healthy you feel because you abandoned the car and now you cycle to work or school.
But also how unsafe you feel in the mornings because you are so vulnerable on the road.
It’s time to ask why the roads are so eerily quiet during the school holidays and why so many people are so reliant on their cars.
|Our streets are gridlocked with cars|
Why, in the past five years, have he and his colleagues done so little to provide your neighbours and friends with viable alternatives to their cars?
And why are we building motorways when the very future of your planet depends on less reliance on our cars?
You could tell him that you wrote articles about wonderful plans for a state-of-the-art tram system a decade ago, only for them to be discounted by the "powers that be" at the time.
You could ask him about the scandalous rent prices and how some of the people you work with are spending more than half their wages just to keep someone else’s roof over their heads.
You can ask why local authority meetings can end in furious arguments over issues as trivial or irrelevant as whether or not they should have a monthly prayer and why his party doesn’t feel ashamed that there are now so many homeless children in this city.
You could ask him why a national emergency wasn’t declared when the number of homeless people in this country passed the 10,000 mark for the first time.
|Homeless in Galway, just two minutes from Eyre Square|
And you could ask him if he felt even a tiny bit of embarrassment when the man in charge of housing people in this city “slept out” for charity last Christmas. All for a glorious photo opportunity, admittedly for a worthy charity, alongside the auctioneer who thrives on pushing up the prices and the businessman who put half of his staff out of work last year.
He might tell you that health care has nothing to do with the local authority, but you might tell him how I felt when I saw my 93-year old father spend 48 hours on a trolley in the Emergency Department of our local public hospital last summer.
About the despair I witnessed all around me and the fear in the voices of people who felt they would be punished or further delayed if they dared to complain.
Only for you to see a smug, happy, smiling Minister for Health post a photo of his dog on social media the following week, seemingly without a care in the world.
You might tell him how hollow the great national “recovery” seemed as you sat there, hour after hour, watching the stressed out hospital staff struggle to cope with the sheer number of bodies in that overcrowded corridor.
|Our public hospitals are crowded as the economy "recovers"|
You might ask why so many people you know are frightened, clinging on to private health care they can’t afford in the full knowledge that they are only one pay cheque away from being left without a home.
You might ask why so many of your friends and neighbours are struggling, when it still seems that a tiny elite of select individuals can make a "killing" from lucrative Government contracts which are beyond the reach of 99% of us.
You could ask why those who are scraping a living in insecure jobs are forced to pay the deeply unpopular Universal Social Charge, or why the council doesn’t seem to build any houses while so many people are relying on emergency accommodation.
If it wasn't for those charities, or the kindness of friends, how many people would be forced to sleep out in this city every night?
. . . Or you could leave the telly on and not bother to answer the door!
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-- * Ciaran Tierney won the Irish Current Affairs and Politics Blog of the Year award at the Tramline, Dublin, in October 2018. Find him on Facebook or