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6 - The Neoliberal Roots of the Current Crisis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2021

Rory Hearne
Affiliation:
Maynooth University, Ireland
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Summary

Housing crises are not new

Ireland is an interesting case through which to understand housing, because of its particular history. It shows that housing crises are not new, nor are they universal, either within countries or across different countries. There were severe housing shortages due to rapid urbanisation and inequalities in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century. For example, Dublin and other Irish cities had some of the worst slum housing conditions in Europe in the early part of the 19th century. This was due to the lack of an independent government, the disinterest of the British colonial administration in providing housing for the Catholic majority in Ireland, discrimination against the Catholic population, and growing urban poverty and social class inequalities. In 1914, a local government committee tasked with investigating the living conditions of Dublin families with the lowest incomes produced a report entitled Housing Conditions of the Working Classes in the City of Dublin (Local Government Board for Ireland, 1914), which found private rented homes that were severely overcrowded, unsanitary, unsafe for children, and generally ‘unfit for human habitation’. James Connolly, a leading socialist Republican and trade unionist, was one of the executed leaders of the 1916 Irish rebellion against the British Empire and signatory of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. Writing in his newspaper, the Worker's Republic, he wrote in 1899 about the slum housing conditions in Dublin and describes it in a way that echoes through the century since they were written to resonate with today's housing crisis:

The housing accommodation of the Dublin workers is a disgrace to the City; high rents and vile sanitary arrangements are the rule, and no one in the Corporation seems to possess courage enough to avow the truth, or to face the storm of obloquy which would be directed upon the head of the councillor who would take the opportunity to expose on the floor of the City Hall the manner in which the interests of house landlords are protected. (Connolly, 1899)

He went on to describe the solutions to the crisis then, which also remain relevant as solutions today…

Type
Chapter
Information
Housing Shock
The Irish Housing Crisis and How to Solve It
, pp. 107 - 130
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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