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Fine Gael-Labour Government Worsened Housing Crisis through terms of sale of State Assets to Vulture Funds

August 26, 2017 1 comment

Read two Articles from The Business Section of Sunday Business Post, Aug 13, 2017 below

Both Articles speak of huge “mistakes” by government. The Government actions were indeed the wrong thing to do. But it is clear that they were deliberate

When FG-Lab authorised the sale of very many building sites to Vultures, they made no stipulation that houses should be built urgently or indeed at any time. -Paddy Healy

Ian Kehoe, Researcher for RTE Programme “The Great Irish Sell-Off”   SBP   Aug 13

“They(Vultures) are not developers. They are masters of speculative capital. They buy cheap, sweat the assets and move on to the next  distressed market. At the moment, the demand for houses is pushing up the value of their asset. So they are profiting from standing idly by.

NAMA Chief Executive, Brendan McDonagh, admitted as much in recent months when he linked the low level of residential development on sites sold by his agency to land hoarding.

McDonagh was asked at the Oireachtas Finance Committee if NAMA should have imposed stipulations on the buyers of portfolios requiring them to develop sites within a specific period.

He argued that this would have led to a discount on the price being achieved .”

It’s Time To Admit We Made Huge Mistakes With Vulture Funds

In the dying months of his tenure as finance minister, Michael Noonan was repeatedly questioned about the arrival of vulture funds in Ireland.

There was context to the questioning -90,000 mortgages and tens of billions of Euro in distressed property debts and business loans had been acquired by a handful of hedge funds and private equity giants at knock-down prices and most of the funds were unregulated and largely untaxed.

Noonan’s Policies, implemented by NAMA and IBRC , lit a fire that was without international comparison

Noonans replies to questioning missed the point.

The wholesale acquisition of debt by vulture funds will have generational consequences here, and it is only right to have a public debate about it.

I have long believed that the sell-off was too quick, too large and that Ireland was unprepared.

First, we saw the fact that many of the buyers of mortgages were unregulated and outside the scope of the Central Bank. Many have signed up to a code of conduct, while intermediaries are now regulated. The owners of the mortgages (vultures), however, remain unregulated

Second we saw it in the case of Tyrellstown, whereby a deal between a developer of an estate and Goldman Sachs resulted in eviction letters sent to 40 tenants. This exposed Irelands lack of rent security.

We have also seen it in terms of tax. As our RTE Programme “The Great Irish Sell-Off” revealed, 25 subsidiaries of vulture funds paid less than 18,000 euro in tax on assets of 20 billion Euro, with an estimated loss to the exchequer of 700 million euro.

There is another point here and it needs to be examined. Ireland’s Housing Calamity

Is affecting mobility, demography and the economy. We simply do not have enough houses. And, somehow, most of the prime development land is held by funds who do not build. These funds are not builders.

They are not developers. They are masters of speculative capital. They buy cheap, sweat the assets and move on to the next  distressed market. At the moment, the demand for houses is pushing up the value of their asset. So they are profiting from standing idly by.

NAMA Chief Executive, Brendan McDonagh, admitted as much in recent months when he linked the low level of residential development on sites sold by his agency to land hoarding.

McDonagh was asked at the Oireachtas Finance Committee if NAMA should have imposed stipulations on the buyers of portfolios requiring them to develop sites within a specific period.

He argued that this would have led to a discount on the price being achieved.

He is right about that.  But if NAMA had done it, Ireland might have a pipeline of houses that could help the homeless. Decisions have consequences. Decisions must be debated

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Massive Increase in Repossessions by Vulture Funds

Huge Mistakes With Vulture Funds-SBP Aug 13

Jack-Horgan Jones

How many times have the “vultures”resorted to the courts, looking to secure a judgement over a debtor?  There has been a very real explosion in this figure.  According to figures compiled by SBP, the share of the summary judgement application market accounted for by vulture fund activities has almost trebled. Last year they accounted for 10% of the total. This year that has rocketed to 27.4%.

The most aggressive funds, it seems, are those who have bought the largest debt. Most active are Goldman Sachs and CarVal, who between them have purchased billions of non-performing Irish debt. Goldman subsidiaries accounted for 105 actions since January 2016. CarVal far eclipses that at 183. Cabot accounts for125 actions in 2016 alone.

What is Driving this?

Colm Lyons is a British Barrister, Specialising in Transfer of Debt. He is not surprised by the increase in cases. He says: “what you are seeing is a pretty significant increase in the number of summary judgements being made. That is entirely to be expected because the word is that the vulture funds in Ireland are trying to get out and without losses. When a judgement is secured the funds can assign that judgement and the debt to someone else for a fee. It tidies up messy battles, and ease their passage out of Ireland.”

What jumps out a Lyons is the scale of the issue in Ireland. And how that might have knock-on affects for debtors.

He continues: “I’ve never seen a situation where an economy has been dictated by vulture funds. You had a government that didn’t that did not know what it was doing, went into a bank bail-out and bankrupted the country, and then it had to recover the situation. The only way that was ever going to happen was  a tripartite deal with banks and vulture funds

The root of this is a Faustian Pact (Deal with the Devil) made by the Enda Kenny government with funds. Faced with the consequences of the Cowen Governments stewardship, they jumped at the chance to offload debt to the funds via NAMA.”

The fallout, as funds crunch their way through the toxic debt they have bought, is being managed through the apparatus of the state-namely the courts and the receivership system.

Lyons continued: “If that’s going to happen, then the courts  become an arm of economic policy rather than independently determining the facts of any given case.

There did not seem to be an understanding of the legal, economic, social and political cnsequences of doing that.”

From a macro perspective, this is what is driving the rise in cases and a similar trend in receiverships.

Paul O’Grady, an Irish Barrister who represents debtors, shares the view that the funds are in a rush to the door. He says: “the vulture funds  have more than achieved their targeted returns in respect of the loan portfolios they bought. They have therefore put a deadline on the completion of their activities in Ireland, and are seeking to recover as much money as possible in as short a remaining time as possible”

 

 

 

(further from Paddy Healys Blog:  LABOUR-FINE GAEL FED THE VULTURES AT THE EXPENSE OF THE HOMELESS)

Purchasers of Irish Residential Property (including Vultures) will pay NO CAPITAL GAINS TAX if they retain the property for 5 years -Finance Bill Debate in Dail Nov 23 2016

(This applies EVEN IF IT IS EMPTY FOR THE 5 YEARS)

http://www.independent.ie/business/commercial-property/finance-bill-fuels-debate-on-commercial-real-estate-35257323.html

Page 92  Dail Report  November 23, 2016

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/debateswebpack.nsf/takes/dail2016112300092?opendocument

 

Deputy Paul Murphy:   I move amendment No. 89:

In page 67, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

“25. The Minister for Finance is to report to the Dáil within six months of the enactment of this Act on the projected cost of property-related exemptions from Capital Gains Tax, including the Capital Gains Tax exemption for properties bought between 7 December 2011 and the end of 2014 and held for seven years and the new exemption introduced for IREFs holding property for 5 years introduced under this Act.”.

I will be very brief. This kind of issue has been debated a lot tonight. The amendment is asking for a report to the Dáil on the projected cost of property related exemptions from CGT, including the CGT exemption for properties bought between 7 December 2011 and the end of 2014 and held for seven years and the new exemption introduced in this Bill for IREFs holding property for five years. We believe there is a substantial amount of tax being legally avoided in this manner and will continue to be under the new proposals. That tax is overwhelmingly avoided by much better-off sections of our population. We want to see what the figures are and how much money is involved.

Deputy Michael Noonan:   A capital gains tax relief on disposals of land or buildings acquired in the period commencing on 7 December 2011 and ending on 31 December 2013 was announced in budget 2013 and in section 64 of the Finance Act 2012. Section 44 of the Finance (No. 2) Act 2013 extended the period within which the land or buildings may be acquired for the purposes of this relief to 31 December 2014. If the property is held for the full seven years, the land or buildings will qualify for the full relief. Partial relief is available if the property is held for longer than seven years.`

I am advised by Revenue that it is not possible to estimate with any degree of accuracy the impact of the capital gains tax relief granted in respect of land and buildings, including commercial property, introduced in budget 2012 and extended in budget 2014. I am further advised by Revenue that, in view of the fact that the nature of the relief is time related and requires a minimum ownership period of seven years, which ownership period could not commence earlier than 7 December 2011, it will not be in a position to offer initial soundly based costings until the returns for the tax year of 2018 have been processed. More detailed costings would follow on from the processing of tax returns from 2019 onwards. There is therefore no basis at present on which to prepare a report on the cost of this relief.

With regard to Irish real estate funds, IREFs, the proposal ensures that any rental income or development profits earned by the IREF will be included in the calculation of the IREF’s profits. Capital gains will also be included in the calculation of profits unless the asset is held for five years or more. The exemption from capital gains has been legislated for to encourage sustainable investment focused on the long-term holding and management of income-producing rental property. This will, in the longer term, lead to a more sustainable and secure property market for both investors and property tenants while generating regular and reliable tax revenues for the Exchequer from the taxation of the rental profits. Although any gain may be exempt where the property is held for more than five years, tax will still be payable on the rental income that is being generated. It should be noted that this exemption reflects the current position regarding capital gains tax, CGT, and funds and does not reduce the current tax burden on funds. Therefore, it does not give rise to an additional cost.

To ensure, however, that the IREFs cannot be used for tax planning, as I have noted, I am proposing a Report Stage amendment which removes from section 22 the ability of an investor who has influence or control over the IREF to receive a distribution of capital gains without the operation of the new 20% withholding tax. This proposed IREF is not a tax incentive for people investing in commercial property. All rental income and development profits earned by the IREF will be included in the calculation of the IREF’s profits. Where an IREF makes a distribution of these profits, non-resident investors will be subject to a withholding tax of 20%. The proposal has been drafted in a balanced way to ensure the Irish tax base is protected where Irish property transactions are taking place within collective investment vehicles while not damaging the commercial property market in the long term. The IREF provisions apply to accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2017. Therefore, as the Revenue Commissioners will not receive accounts for these funds until mid-2018, it would not be practicable to prepare the report in the timeframe requested. I cannot accept the proposed amendment. Of course, when the data are available, it will obviously be reported on and the kind of information the Deputy has requested will be provided in due course.

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BREXIT: All Ireland Sovereignty More Necessary Than Ever Now!

August 16, 2017 Leave a comment

People on both sides of the border are enraged with any suggested tightening of the Border to facilitate Brexit

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“But the only possible way for us to protect the interests of the people of this entire island is by declaring that there will be no border on the island, not under any circumstances”

Fergus Finlay, Former Assistant to Dick Spring, Irish Examiner 12/09/2017

“So, does that mean tiochfaidh ár lá? I don’t know, and it’s not from that perspective I’m saying it. But the only possible way for us to protect the interests of the people of this entire island is by declaring that there will be no border on the island, not under any circumstances. A border between Britain and the EU can only be achieved by Britain leaving Ireland”

Paddy Healy: What Must Be Done –Blog Aug 16, 2017

Because of this sharpness given to the National Question by the proposed Brexit, I believe that all Socialists , Republicans and Nationalists including Sinn Féin should tell The British Government, the EU and the 26 Co government that no new restrictions on the movement of people or goods across the current border will be tolerated. Any such proposals will be met by united mass marches in towns on both sides of the border

These marches should culminate in 2 protests of an All-Ireland character-the first in Belfast and  the second in Dublin.

FERGUS FINLAY: Is Britain bordering on conceding that it will leave Northern Ireland?Irish Examiner, September 12, 2017

Fergus Finlay

The only logical solution… is for Britain to declare that it will withdraw from the North, writes Fergus Finlay.

IT WAS a wise Irish civil servant who told me once, years ago, that the time to be afraid of British negotiators was when they offered a flurry of ideas. “Read them,” he said, “and you’ll notice one thing. They’re trying to trap you into discussing points of detail, so you end up ignoring the fundamentals.” His remark was made in the context of Anglo-Irish negotiations about the Northern Ireland peace process, but it applies just as much to Britain’s position in the Brexit negotiations, at least where Ireland is concerned. Their negotiating stance is based on an age-old truism — get them haggling about price, and they’ll forget the point of principle.

The good news is that the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and his team, saw the Brits coming. In a really astute report from Brussels the other night, RTÉ’s correspondent, Tony Connelly, pointed out that the Brits had published a 27-page paper full of technical suggestions about how you could have a border in Ireland, but that it wouldn’t really be a hard border. The EU had responded with a much shorter paper, refusing to engage with the technical stuff and pointing out that Britain had entirely ignored the fundamental issue of principle.

The principle is simple. After Brexit, any border in Ireland is a border between Britain and the EU. That border affects how people and goods come into and out of the EU. If Britain leave the EU and the customs union, then Britain, and by extension Northern Ireland, are on the other side of the border. Full stop.

 

But a border between Britain and the EU also, as a matter of law, becomes a border on the island of Ireland. The potential for damage of the re-emergence of a hard border on this island is huge. Even the British acknowledge that.

There’s no need to spell out the extent, and kind, of damage it could do. We’ve spent more than 20 years since the ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement — which took violence from the conflict, but didn’t end it — trying to build a political process that could sustain itself and change hearts and minds. We know how fragile and faltering that is. The idea that you would re-insert a physical border into that equation is simply mind-boggling.

But Britain voted to leave Europe because it wants borders. It wants to control the movement of people. The largest single factor in the vote to leave was the fear of immigration. Controlling the movement of people is synonymous in the minds of Brexiteers with the language of regaining control of Britain’s destiny.

That’s why the British paper, which pretends that you can have a hard Brexit without hard borders, reminds me so much of the “angel papers” they used to produce during the Anglo-Irish negotiations.

They were called angel papers, and it was a British term, because they had no official standing. A paper could be produced full of the kind of language in which an agreement could be framed. But it would be presented as “random thoughts” or “musings”. If you didn’t like them, no harm done. If the British officials regretted offering them, or found they couldn’t sell them to their own political masters, they simply disappeared (I suppose, as an angel does, when his or her job is done).

But if you engaged with the stuff, you were trapped. What might be a flimsy idea on a bit of paper and have no standing could suddenly become something to beat you over the head with, if you gave it credibility.

The much wiser course was simply not to go there at all, until basic principles were agreed.

That, clearly, is what the EU has decided to do. They can see the impossibility, in principle as well as in practice, of agreeing to the re-imposition of a border on the island of Ireland. They know that if they agree to some technical tricks that make it look like something to which there is a “practical solution”, the issue of whether or not it is the right thing to do will become irretrievably muddied.

Sooner or later, in these negotiations, someone is going to mention the unmentionable. The British have decided to leave the EU. They’re pretending they can do so without creating a new border between them and the EU, and that that border will have to be situated in their neighbouring island.

 

That won’t work, and it can’t work. What needs to be said — and I’m surprised to hear myself saying this — is that in deciding to leave the EU, Britain has effectively decided that it is not possible to sustain the union between Northern Ireland and what it likes to call the mainland.

In short, the only logical solution to the issue of borders is for Britain to declare that it will, over time, withdraw from Northern Ireland. That, and that alone, would enable Britain to locate its border with the EU wherever it wants to, without doing untold damage to its nearest neighbour. Of course, the Brits may not be too worried about damaging Ireland, but it’s clear that the EU won’t allow them to undermine years of painstaking work on peace and political progress by playing jiggery-pokery with a border.

So, does that mean tiochfaidh ár lá? I don’t know, and it’s not from that perspective I’m saying it. But the only possible way for us to protect the interests of the people of this entire island is by declaring that there will be no border on the island, not under any circumstances. A border between Britain and the EU can only be achieved by Britain leaving Ireland.

That will certainly take years to work out , and would be an expensive operation, for both Britain and the EU. Britain is looking for a transition period anyway, in relation to customs arrangements. Part of that transition needs to be provision for full withdrawal.

The entire peace process was made possible, and is built on, the principle of consent. The principle of consent means that you honour the views that people express democratically.

The people of Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union. While the principle of consent was not conceived to apply to that circumstance, it is, nevertheless, the case that taking the people of Northern Ireland out of the EU, and rebuilding a border on the island of Ireland, flies in the face of any understanding of the notion of consent.

I think it comes down to this. We cannot allow a border to be built again on this island, for a myriad of reasons. Europe cannot be protected without one, but doesn’t want one, either.

Britain cannot have its cake and eat it. They must put their border elsewhere, and they must propose and facilitate whatever it takes to enable both parts of this island to remain within the EU.

In voting for Brexit, they effectively voted to leave Ireland. There is no other way forward.

 

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Ireland needs to reject the fantasy of no hard Border After Brexit-Stephen Collins, Irish Times

(The conclusions of Stephen Collins are politically right wing and against the interests of the Irish People. But his delineation of the issues is correct. Fantasies being propagated by the London and Dublin governments are correctly debunked.)

Full Article

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/ireland-needs-to-reject-the-fantasy-of-no-hard-border-1.3188634?mode=print&ot=example.AjaxPageLayout.ot

Stephen Collins,Irish Times Thursday, August 17, 2017, 05:00

Irish politicians need to get over the fantasy that the return of a land Border on this island can somehow be avoided after Brexit

The soft words in the two position papers published by the British government this week are all very fine but they simply represent an opening negotiation position most unlikely to stand the test of serious negotiation.

The British papers appear to be a more sophisticated version of Boris Johnson’s initial response to the EU referendum result when he insisted that the UK could have its cake and eat it.

The persistent demands of a range of Irish politicians that there be no return of the Border in any circumstances are every bit as delusional as Johnson’s dream of having all the benefits of EU membership at no cost after leaving.

The cold reality still does not seem to have impinged on a range of Irish politicians, from the Taoiseach down . . . . Irish Times Aug 17

 

What Must Be Done

Because of this sharpness given to the National Question by the proposed Brexit, I believe that all socialists and Republicans including Sinn Féin should tell The British Government, the EU and the 26 Co government that no new restrictions on the movement of people or goods across the current border will be tolerated. Any such proposals will be met by united mass marches in towns on both sides of the border

The extent of the pressure on Fine Gael from Border communities is reflected in this statement by Joe McHugh, FG TD for Donegal and Government Chief Whip  ———-             Border Type

Mr McHugh said the EU needed to be reminded constantly of its responsibilities around the peace process, and warned any type of Border beyond the existing arrangement, “hard or soft, manual or electronic”, would be a retrograde step.” Irish Times
Even Fine Gael supporters are very exercised on the issue.. The Fine Gael Supporters in the area are advising Veradkar and Coveney that they cannot have their fingerprints on any such provision. (That,of course, does not mean that they will not capitulate to it-but it cannot be done with their formal agreement)
Governments are concerned about the possibility that the sort of campaign of mass demonstrations which I advocate may happen, even spontaneously.
But they are also concerned that it may give rise to a new miitary campsaign outside the control of Sinn Féin

British Daily Telegraph Heading!

Britain is fighting to save Ireland from an EU-imposed hard border

Would you believe it?-Paddy Healy

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/16/britain-fighting-save-ireland-eu-imposed-hard-border/

Once Britain leaves the European Union, the only land border it will have with the bloc will be the 310-mile open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Brussels would not be able to accept people crossing into (and out of) newly non-EU territory without being policed, so can they be satisfied while keeping travel flowing?

The British acknowledge that both sides will need to “show flexibility and imagination” in order to avoid “a return to the border posts of the past”. They have started the ball rolling by laying out how they want to resolve it in a new paper (something the Europeans have yet to do). Britain envisages an “invisible” border between Ireland and Northern Ireland without “any physical border infrastructure” and “light touch” technology handling any checks. The EU claims that it too wants to avoid a hard border, but it is only possible due to the bloc’s…—Daily Telegraph Aug 16, 2017

British Daily Telegraph Heading!

Britain is fighting to save Ireland from an EU-imposed hard border!!!

Would you believe it?-Paddy Healy

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/16/britain-fighting-save-ireland-eu-imposed-hard-border/

Once Britain leaves the European Union, the only land border it will have with the bloc will be the 310-mile open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Brussels would not be able to accept people crossing into (and out of) newly non-EU territory without being policed, so can they be satisfied while keeping travel flowing?

The British acknowledge that both sides will need to “show flexibility and imagination” in order to avoid “a return to the border posts of the past”. They have started the ball rolling by laying out how they want to resolve it in a new paper (something the Europeans have yet to do). Britain envisages an “invisible” border between Ireland and Northern Ireland without “any physical border infrastructure” and “light touch” technology handling any checks. The EU claims that it too wants to avoid a hard border, but it is only possible due to the bloc’s…—Daily Telegraph Aug 16, 2017

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DEFEND OUR MILITARY NEUTRALITY

Ireland Must Resist New Pressures To Give Up Military Neutrality

Recovery of All-Ireland Sovereignty of Irish People More Vital than  Ever Now!

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Is Irish Navy Co-Operating with Return of Migrants to Hell On Earth in Libya?

The UN accused the EU last week of turning a “blind eye” to the brutality faced by migrants held in Libya and called for urgent action to help them.-RTE News

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INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AND EUROPEAN AFFAIRS (IIEA)-Funded By Huge Irish and International Business Interests and by the EU Commission Calls For End To Irish Military Neutrality Through President Brendan Halligan

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Post-Brexit support from Berlin and Paris will come at a cost-Halligan in Irish Times

As the Franco-German axis reasserts its self, Irish neutrality and corporation tax policies will have to be revisited 

Opinion: Brendan Halligan, is President of the Institute of International and European Affairs. He was general secretary of the Labour Party and a member of the Oireachtas and European Parliament. This article is based on an address to the MacGill summer school.

Irish Times: Thursday, July 27, 2017, 17:28

Put simply, the European Union is a Franco-German project initiated by the Schuman Declaration of 1951. Together they are building a European home and while others may join in, they have to observe the house rules.

In these circumstances, the best strategy for Ireland is to be at the centre by adopting their agenda and adapting it to our own needs. And in view of Brexit, Ireland will need to be at the centre to get maximum advantage from our membership. It not an easy proposition .

Ireland volunteered to join the EEC in 1961 and gave certain commitments that now need to be revived. The then Taoiseach, Seán Lemass, fearing that Ireland would otherwise be isolated, virtually broke down the doors in Brussels to get into the community. Our application was opposed on many grounds, of which non-membership of Nato was the biggest. Lemass took this head-on and asserted that Ireland agreed with the objectives of Nato, was not neutral in the conflict between democracy and communism and implied that, if admitted as a member, would be prepared to join in the common defence of the EEC.

But defence remains a legacy issue because that commitment got lost after Lemass’s retirement, and is now forgotten. Discussion is off-limits and neutrality has become more a matter of theology than international politics. We have failed to update what it means in practice, as the Finns and Swedes have done.

But we won’t be able to do that for much longer because the Franco-German alliance has undergone a renaissance with the arrival of President Macron and with the imminent re-election of Mrs Merkel. European defence is back on the agenda, not least because of the US retreat from global affairs and the re-emergence of a truculent Russia.

The Franco-German conclusion is that we Europeans had better look after our own defence. As a result, this is one of those moments when Europe redefines itself and enlarges its core activities. We are unprepared for this development and failure to join in common defence, as Lemass had promised, may be our undoing.

The other legacy issue is corporate tax harmonisation. What originally started as a sensible policy for stimulating exports was then transformed into a sophisticated strategy for encouraging foreign direct investment. But it was never intended to become a mechanism for reducing the tax liabilities of international business and Ireland did not set out to become a tax haven, but that’s how we are now perceived.

The challenge here is that the taxation agenda is also quickening. Mrs Merkel has put the financial transaction tax into her government programme and President Macron has raised French concerns over what the OECD calls profit shifting. Then there are Commission proposals on a common consolidated tax base. Unless our stance on taxation is adapted to this complex agenda, then it too will be an obstacle to being part of the core.

That brings us to the strategic necessity for aligning our security and taxation policies with the new Franco-German agenda. It’s purely economic. The disruption from Brexit will be far greater here than in any other EU state. It constitutes an asymmetric shock that will necessitate a long period of adjustment similar to that which we experienced in the first decade of EEC membership.

We will inevitably be looking for assistance in building a new economic model while absorbing the shock of Brexit. To succeed at both we will need something analogous to the cohesion funds that eased our way into monetary union as well as special measures to offset the loss of competitiveness in the UK market, a consequence of the inexorable decline in the value of sterling.

This will be a tough case to make given the competing needs of the less well off member states. But it will have to be made and will be best done by invoking the principle of solidarity. Common sense dictates, however, that to win solidarity we must show solidarity and that means playing a full part at the centre of the Union. It’s a question of realpolitik, not sentiment.

In sum, playing a full part at the centre of the Union means playing a full part in the future common defence and security policies, playing a full part in creating a fiscal union involving corporate tax harmonisation, playing a full part in the Franco-German re-launch of Europe and finally cutting the umbilical cord with Britain and accepting the full consequences of the hard Brexit being brewed up by the Tories.

These are not easy choices. They go against the grain of custom and practice. But they will have to be made.

© 2017 irishtimes.com

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Government and Fianna Fáil have Ordered The Irish Navy To Participate in This Anti-Human Operation!!

Luxembourg Foreign Minister, UNICEF, Medcin Sans Frontiere, Warn Against Return of Migrants To Libyan Concentration Camps

RTE Report and Interview with Luxembourg Foreign Minister

RTE RADIO News At One  17/07/2017

http://rte.ie/r.html?rii=b9_10749567_135_17-07-2017_

Text of RTE Report

Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn has warned that  EU funds could be leading to migrants being housed in what he called concentration camps in Libya. Mr Asselborn said it was right to spend EU  money  training Libyan coastguards to save migrants, who are trying to reach Europe, from drowning. However, he said, this must not lead to those rescued being taken back to lawless camps in Libya.

Clip of interview with Mr Asselborn, Translated into English: “These camps are in part concentration camps-camps where people are raped, where there is no Law. We can only manage this crisis if we work much closer together and dig much deeper into our pockets to help the UN. Otherwise it means something totally inhumane is happening in Europe’s name”

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 Irish Times,Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 11:16

Women and children raped and starved in Libyan ‘hellholes’ – Unicef

Irish Times,Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 11:16

Women and children making the dangerous journey to Europe to flee poverty and conflicts in Africa are being beaten, raped and starved in “living hellholes” in Libya, the United Nations children’s agency (Unicef) said on Tuesday

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Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Website

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has run mobile clinics in seven detention centres located in Tripoli and the surrounding area since July 2016. The centres are under the administration of the Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM).

MSF provides medical care to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who are arbitrarily detained there. The conditions MSF treats include skin disease, diarrhoeal disease, respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections and acute malnutrition. They are the direct result of the appalling conditions in the detention centres. In the first quarter of 2017 alone, more than 4,000 medical consultations were carried out.

On 3 February 2017, European Union leaders met in Malta to discuss migration, with a view to closing the route from Libya to Italy by stepping up cooperation with the Libyan authorities. MSF expressed its concerns about the fate of people trapped in Libya or returned to the country.

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FIANNA FAIL AND GOVERNMENT, UNDERMINE IRISH NEUTRALITY

Seamus Healy TD Condemns New Alliance with British and French Navies To Push Refugees Back to “Hell on Earth” in Libyan Detention Camps

“The flight of desperate refugees across the Mediterranean from Libya and the rest of north Africa is reminiscent of the Famine. During its ten years from 1845 to 1855, 2.1 million desperate Irish people fled across the high seas in the hope of finding a better life abroad. Imagine if those 2.1 million people had been stopped and forced to return to Ireland. That is what Operation Sophia is now doing in the Mediterranean.”

Independent Alliance, Including John Halligan, Finian McGrath, Sean Canney and Shane Ross Vote With FF-FG

Full Dáil Vote-further down

Full Dáil Speech of Seamus Healy TD

Deputy Seamus Healy: “The Naval Service is participating in Operation Pontus as part of a bilateral agreement with the Italian Government. Operation Pontus is a purely humanitarian mission rescuing migrants at risk of drowning in the Mediterranean. To date, the Naval Service has saved approximately 16,800 migrants.

The Government’s proposal to participate in Operation Sophia, which is supported by only eight of the 27 European Union member states, is an attempt to abuse the legitimate concerns of the public about the continuing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean and drag this country into a military role. I agree with the Peace and Neutrality Alliance that involvement in Operation Sophia would be a further breach of neutrality.

The country’s neutrality has already been breached by allowing the US military’s use of Shannon Airport.

We are repeatedly told that the integration of the Naval Service’s operation in the Mediterranean into Operation Sophia will be an extension of the former’s excellent humanitarian mission and reputation. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the priority of the current Operation Pontus is rescue, the priority of Operation Sophia is to force refugees back into the claws of the Tripoli Government. Under Operation Sophia, refugee boats are being confined to Libyan coastal waters by military force where they can be recaptured and returned to Tripoli.

The flight of desperate refugees across the Mediterranean from Libya and the rest of north Africa is reminiscent of the Famine. During its ten years from 1845 to 1855, 2.1 million desperate Irish people fled across the high seas in the hope of finding a better life abroad. Imagine if those 2.1 million people had been stopped and forced to return to Ireland. That is what Operation Sophia is now doing in the Mediterranean.

Libya has been in chaos since military aggression, including bombing by Britain and France, overthrew the Gaddafi regime. There are now three unelected Libyan governments involved in a civil war. This British and French-created chaos has given free rein to traffickers and smugglers preying on people attempting to escape. Integration into Operation Sophia involves allying Ireland with the navies of Britain and France and one of the three warring governments in Libya.

Refugees International speaks of the ongoing violence and chaos in Libya, a country that lacks an asylum system and where the rule of law is absent. Libyan refugees are being confined to hell-on-Earth detention centres. Non-Libyan refugees, of which there are many, are being placed in transit camps prior to repatriation to the countries from which they fled. There is no right of asylum in Tripoli.

If the transfer to Operation Sophia goes ahead, it will be used in future as a precedent to justify the further erosion of Irish neutrality. The excellent reputation of our soldiers and sailors abroad will be sullied by association with human rights abusers. Above all, the Irish people will be made complicit in the vicious oppression of deprived peoples. Tá mé go láidir i gcoinne an rún seo.

 

Question put: “That the motion be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 80; Níl, 38; Staon(abstain), 0. (Ceann Comhairle 1, DID NOT Vote 39,-PH)

Níl    Staon
    Aylward, Bobby.     Boyd Barrett, Richard.
    Bailey, Maria.     Brady, John.
    Barrett, Seán.     Broughan, Thomas P.
    Brassil, John.     Buckley, Pat.
    Breathnach, Declan.     Collins, Joan.
    Breen, Pat.     Collins, Michael.
    Brophy, Colm.     Connolly, Catherine.
    Browne, James.     Crowe, Seán.
    Bruton, Richard.     Daly, Clare.
    Burke, Peter.     Doherty, Pearse.
    Butler, Mary.     Ellis, Dessie.
    Byrne, Catherine.     Funchion, Kathleen.
    Byrne, Thomas.     Healy, Seamus.
    Cahill, Jackie.     Howlin, Brendan.
    Calleary, Dara.     Kenny, Gino.
    Canney, Seán.     McGrath, Mattie.
    Carey, Joe.     Martin, Catherine.
    Casey, Pat.     Mitchell, Denise.
    Cassells, Shane.     Munster, Imelda.
    Chambers, Jack.     Murphy, Catherine.
    Chambers, Lisa.     Murphy, Paul.
    Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.     Nolan, Carol.
    Cowen, Barry.     Ó Broin, Eoin.
    D’Arcy, Michael.     Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
    Daly, Jim.     Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
    Deasy, John.     Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
    Deering, Pat.     O’Reilly, Louise.
    Doherty, Regina.     O’Sullivan, Jan.
    Donnelly, Stephen S.     O’Sullivan, Maureen.
    Dooley, Timmy.     Penrose, Willie.
    Doyle, Andrew.     Quinlivan, Maurice.
    Durkan, Bernard J.     Ryan, Brendan.
    English, Damien.     Ryan, Eamon.
    Farrell, Alan.     Sherlock, Sean.
    Fitzgerald, Frances.     Shortall, Róisín.
    Fitzpatrick, Peter.     Smith, Bríd.
    Flanagan, Charles.     Stanley, Brian.
    Halligan, John.     Tóibín, Peadar.
    Harris, Simon.
    Harty, Michael.
    Haughey, Seán.
    Heydon, Martin.
    Kehoe, Paul.
    Lahart, John.
    McConalogue, Charlie.
    McEntee, Helen.
    McGrath, Finian.
    McGrath, Michael.
    McGuinness, John.
    McHugh, Joe.
    McLoughlin, Tony.
    Madigan, Josepha.
    Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.
    Moynihan, Aindrias.
    Murphy O’Mahony, Margaret.
    Murphy, Dara.
    Murphy, Eoghan.
    Murphy, Eugene.
    Naughten, Denis.
    Naughton, Hildegarde.
    Neville, Tom.
    Ó Cuív, Éamon.
    O’Brien, Darragh.
    O’Connell, Kate.
    O’Dea, Willie.
    O’Donovan, Patrick.
    O’Dowd, Fergus.
    O’Keeffe, Kevin.
    O’Loughlin, Fiona.
    O’Rourke, Frank.
    Rabbitte, Anne.
    Ring, Michael.
    Rock, Noel.
    Ross, Shane.
    Scanlon, Eamon.
    Smith, Brendan.
    Smyth, Niamh.
    Stanton, David.
    Troy, Robert.
    Zappone, Katherine.

 

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Louise O’Reilly.

Question declared carried.

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Government Proposes That Irish Navy Join British Navy In Handing Over Refugees to Be Jailed by Puppet Libyan Government-One of 3 Libyan Governments Fighting Civil War

Recent Manchester Bombing Related To UK Military Intervention in Libya

Government Proposal Endangers Irish People

 

Government Proposal To Transfer Irish Navy Operations in Mediteranean from “Pontus” to “Sophia”

Differing  practice on Handing over of Refugees is being omitted from all media coverage

Operation Pontus—Ireland, Italy only-refugees handed over to Italian Navy

Operation Sophia—25 EU states including UK , France by Agreement With Tripoli Government-Refugees returned to Tripoli Government and likely Jail  (“Hell on Earth”-Refugees International)

There are at least 3 governments in Libya and a raging civil war—Tripoli Government recognised by EU

UK and France bombed Libya to overthrow Gadafi-Now Chaos Reigns in Libya

 

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/time-to-join-eu-humanitarian-sea-mission-1.3097974

 

Sophia

Libyan Refugees being Returned From International Waters to Jail in Libya -“Hell on Earth”

Civil War in Progress-At least 3 states in existence –Tripoli Government Recognised by EU, UN?

EU helping force refugees back to ‘hell on Earth’ in push to stop boat crossings from Libya, report finds

Researchers say EU is disregarding international law and human rights

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-refugee-boats-stop-migrant-crisis-libya-drowning-mediterranean-report-refugees-international-a7766531.html

Research by the US-based Refugees International (RI) group warned that the EU’s push to prevent boats leaving the Libyan coast – now the main departure point towards Europe – could fuel horrific abuses.

READ MORE

“The fate of people who are seeking international protection is effectively absent from the plans outlined by EU leaders to tackle the Central Mediterranean route,” its report concluded.

“With the ongoing violence and chaos in Libya, a country that lacks an asylum system and where the rule of law is absent, EU countries must accept people on their territory through orderly, legal processes that are viable alternatives to ruthless criminal networks.

“The EU and its member states should also ensure that their funding and actions in Libya do not result in or contribute to human rights abuses against refugees and migrants.”

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 STATEMENT FROM PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT ON GOVERNMENT DECISION TO SIGN UP TO MORE AGGRESSIVE POLICY ON REFUGEE CRISIS

The Government should not be allowed to abuse the legitimate concerns of the Irish public about the continuing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean to drag the country into the EU’s increasingly militarised response to that crisis.

Ireland has to date only participated in rescue operations in the Mediterranean as part of a bilateral deal with the Italian government.

The Government will decide today (11th July) whether to join the European Union’s Operation Sophia.

The government hopes to put the plan to the Dail on Wednesday morning.

It represents a change in policy for Ireland, after Defence Minister Paul Kehoe told the Dail in December that there was no intention to join the eight-EU-member-state-strong naval operation.

The Irish navy’s work in the Mediterranean has so far been limited to participating in rescue missions, within the mandate of Operation Pontus.

Over the course of two years, Irish forces have saved almost 16,000 migrants, many of whom had tried to make the often-lethal sea voyage in basic inflatable dinghies and unseaworthy craft.

Operation Sophia is currently in phase 2. This involves stopping and searching vessels suspected of being involved in people smuggling. Only eight EU members are participating.

But the eight EU members the Government hopes to join do not intend to stop there.

Sophia makes provision for a Phase 3 which would involve an even more aggressive stance and could include possible action on Libyan soil itself!

Will the Government acknowledge this to the Dail?

As in all these matters an abject policy surrender is motivated by a craven desire to please our EU “betters”. Who will call, “Halt”?

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The militarisation of Europe is a far greater threat than Brexit -Prof Ray Kinsella

Irish Independent PUBLISHED11/07/2016 | 02:30

The most searching challenge that the EU faces is not the fallout from Brexit – it’s from the militarisation of Europe and the US-led Nato encirclement of Russia, endorsed by the Nato Summit in Warsaw last weekend.

 

It is as misconceived as austerity and authoritarianism, which are at the heart of the European crisis. But it is infinitely more dangerous. If the Chilcot Report on the war in Iraq proves anything, it is that the momentum towards armed conflict, once started, becomes difficult to contain.

Militarisation will make it much more difficult to deal with the EU’s migration crisis, itself largely a consequence of the catastrophic effects of Western military intervention. A conflagration between US-led Nato and Russia would increase the numbers of refugees in Europe by an order of magnitude. As for the impact of such a conflagration on the European and global economy – well, all bets are off. We could not begin to model the impact – but we can look at post-war Europe and Iraq and Syria and Libya… Only what are euphemistically termed ‘Defence’ industries do (exceedingly) well out of war.

In April, I suggested in these pages that Europe was in denial. It was mired in an identity crisis largely brought on by itself – a crisis of values, democracy – as well as macroeconomic instability marked by inequality, youth unemployment and long-term indebtedness among peripheral countries. There was no trust in Europe. “The governance of the eurozone is characterised by self-interest, subservience among weaker indebted members and, also, tenacity beyond all reason, in persisting with failed policies.”

In June, prior to the Brexit Referendum, I pointed out that “while it was not the job of UK voters to resolve this mess – Brexit can force these same Euro elite to see reality. The EU is incapable of understanding that the dissenting voices across Europe – which they like to dismiss as ‘populism’ – are not the problem: the real issue is the underlying causes that have precipitated opposition to what the EU has become.”

This perspective was vindicated by the EU’s initial response to Brexit – denial, anger and a blame game.

Then, more positively, the first stirrings of a change in attitude by the EU ‘Top Table’ – notably Dr Wolfgang Schäuble – including a decision not to respond to Brexit by pressing ahead with ‘union’ and not to overly pressurise the UK in implementing Article 50.

Militarism threatens this. The process of rebalancing and reform, including greater democratisation across the EU, is now in jeopardy from the increased militarisation of the EU over the last two years, which is set to increase in the wake of the Warsaw summit. It is an appalling prospect.

Why do ‘leaders’ never see these things coming down the track? Every Leaving Cert student knows ‘The Causes of World War I’ – knowledge didn’t prevent it happening. Why did the ‘leaders’, with the notable example of Churchill, not see what was unfolding in Germany in the short few years from 1935 to 1939?

Why did the US not understand the malign dynamic of the Vietnam War during the 1960s – and its consequences for Asia and the global financial system?

Why did ‘leaders’ not envisage the catastrophic impact of the Iraq invasion?

Now, consider this recent statement by Nato: “Since 2014 Allies have implemented the biggest increase in collective defence since the Cold War… Four robust multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland … a brigade in Romania … further steps to improve cyber-defences, civil-preparedness and to defend against ballistic missile attack … extend Nato’s training mission in Iraq and to broaden (its) role in the Central Mediterranean … deploy Nato’s Awac surveillance aircraft to support the Global Coalition to counter Isil…”

Now read the Nato Communique issued after last weekend. This is in just two years. The scale and scope of this process has largely gone unremarked. So too have the ironies: of more “training” in Iraq, of support for a “Global Coalition to counter Isil” when we know that it was the military invasion of Iraq that largely created Isil, of “defensive missile systems” ostensibly operated by Nato, which as a recent article in the ‘Wall Street Journal’ points out, “are essentially American initiatives” – and can be redeployed in hours as a long-range offensive system.

The purported justification for this new militarisation of Europe is the intervention of Russia in Ukraine, culminating in the annexation of the Crimean peninsula and its re-integration into Russia.

What is inferred by Nato from this is that ‘a resurgent Russia’ poses an existential threat to Europe. It doesn’t stand up. It also puts fundamental reform of the EU – and peace – in jeopardy. The sensitivities of Poland and the Baltic states to a military threat from Russia are understandable. But that does not mean the argument driving militarisation is robust. Nor does it mean that their interests, and the interests of peace and stability in Europe, are well served by this militarisation of Europe.

Russia is not the USSR. The rebuilding of its economy and infrastructure, including the modernisation of its defence capability, under President Putin does not remotely equate to a threat to its neighbours.

The military capability of the US dwarfs that of Russia, in terms of assets and the number of bases from which to project those assets. Russia’s defence budget is a fraction of that of the US.

Moreover, the track record, and legacy, of Western military intervention in recent decades demonstrably poses a much greater threat to global peace and stability compared with Russia. But indeed any such comparisons are pitiless and, everywhere, add up to incalculable suffering. The decision by the EU to facilitate accession to the EU by Ukraine and, before that Georgia, was foolish and provocative beyond belief. It was foolish because the expansion of the EU has created a ‘Union’ so unwieldy and overextended in its governance as to pose a threat – now all too evident – to its very existence.

Reflect, for a moment, on a ‘Union’ that also included Ukraine and Georgia. To compound that by facilitating accession to the EU – and, by extension, participation in Nato-led security arrangements – of nations bonded to Russia geographically, historically and in terms of language and culture, went way beyond provocation.

It has kick-started a vicious circle of ratcheting-up ‘defence’ spending. The deployment by Nato of men, heavy equipment and missile systems effectively encircling Russia will inevitably elicit a response.

We have seen this kind of dynamic before – it is taking Europe to a bleak place.

The militarisation of the EU has been rapid, largely invisible and facilitated by self-serving propaganda. Diplomacy provides a better basis for engaging with Russia as a European power, with shared interests at a time of global uncertainty.

Militarisation, now unleashed, threatens Europe.

Economist Ray Kinsella is Professor of Banking and Financial Services, and Healthcare at UCD

Irish Independent.

Categories: Uncategorized

Cruel Neglect of The Disabled To Protect The Incomes and Assets of The Super-Rich from Fair Taxation

June 3, 2017 1 comment

As Richest 12 Irish Gain 6 Billion Euro in Untaxed Assets in Last Year Alone– Cuts in Disability Provision Continue!


Protest over ‘broken promises’ on disability rights

RTE/ Tuesday, 19 Sep 2017 16:41

Protesters say the demonstration will continue overnight

Several dozen protesters, many of them in wheelchairs, have gathered outside Leinster House for a protest which they have vowed to continue overnight.

They have written to the Taoiseach and all other TDs accusing most of them of breaking promises to the republic’s 600,000 people with disabilities, and claiming they are being denied equality, rights, and a life worth living.

In the letter, the organisation ‘Broken Promises – Disabled People Fight Back’ recites a litany of promises which it says politicians who have governed the State for several years have broken.

It highlights the continuing delay in ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which the State signed a decade ago.

The letter accuses Fine Gael of going back on its 2011 manifesto promise to provide grants for personal assistants.

The letter claims that instead of funding more PAs to facilitate self-directed independent living in disabled people’s own homes, Fine Gael rolled out limited home-care packages, which the group says are often not in their best interests.

The campaign says it is composed of “ordinary disabled people” who are not affiliated to charities or political groups.

It claims to represent disabled people from the cradle to the grave.The letter says pain is not seen by the authorities as an urgent cause for medical care and highlights delays in providing hip replacement surgery and interventions to address scoliosis.

“You create disability by making us wait years for surgery and we become even more disabled, in even more pain, in dire agony and unable to walk or breathe,” the letter states.

The campaign accuses previous governments of removing transport grants and failing to implement a promise to restore them.

It says government TDs, past and present, have allowed 1,200 people with disabilities to “languish unhappy and trapped in nursing homes and care homes” when they want the freedom to live independently instead.

The letter’s authors blame successive governments for effectively depriving them of citizenship by providing for them extremely poorly.

They accuse the politicians concerned of forcing disabled people into poverty through denying them adequate social support benefits and reiterate the call for a cost of disability grant to help people with disabilities to buy necessities.

“You allow the misery of begging and pleading for ‘scraps from the HSE table’, a daily, weekly, monthly grind of supplication, often for years,” the letter continues.

It adds: “… we need recourse to the courts and the media to tell of our plight. We have cried on TV, radio and to newspaper reporters – begging for the support we need. We are demeaned – humiliated.”

The facilitators named at the end of the letter are sisters and well-known campaigners Margaret and Ann Kennedy from Greystones, Co Wicklow, and Frank Larkin.

They accuse politicians who have wielded power and those currently in office of ignoring the extent of isolation in the disabled population living with their own families “where there is little support and help”.

The group also laments the great hardship that is caused by the failure to deliver accessible housing to disabled people.

The group says this creates homelessness or forces people into housing that is sub-standard or not fit for purpose.

It says a homeless double amputee will be on an overnight ‘vigil of despair’ at the Merrion Square gates of Leinster House.

The protesters demand an urgent meeting to discuss a list of demands with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Disability Finian McGrath and Minister for Health Simon Harris.

The demands, all of which they want to be conceded immediately, are:

  • Ratification of the UNCRPD;
  • Reinstatement of mobility/transport grants,
  • Full personal assistant support for all disabled people with direct payments and self -direction of the PA by the grant recipients. They say this was promised in the FG manifesto 2011;
  • Accessible social housing/affordable housing to enable all 1,200 disabled people living in nursing and care homes to live independently in their homes instead. They say this measure must include all disabled people forced to remain in their childhood home, with parents and/or relatives, because there is no accessible independent living structures to support them.
  • A Disability Living Allowance
  • Recognition of the social model of disability, with the removal of disability from the HSE, which is accused of using a ‘power and control’ model which demeans and humiliates people with disabilities.

Mr McGrath this afternoon said it is his intention to ratify the UNCRPD before the end of the year.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, he said the first two stages have been passed through the Dáil.

He said he hoped to bring a memo to Cabinet by the end of this month.

Mr McGrath said he wanted to ensure that the legislation could stand up to scrutiny.

He said that while this was going on, Government was investing seriously in services for people with disabilities.

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7,600 people with disabilities on social housing waiting lists-RTE NEWS , 9 Aug 2017

Disability Federation of Ireland ALARMED

Cynical Honeyed Words from Disability Minister Finian McGrath

“A spokesperson for Disability Minister McGrath said the Minister recognises the difficulties facing people with disabilities in finding appropriate housing and will ensure that these needs are incorporated into FUTURE housing policies.

The minister, he said, will continue to raise this issue and other issues of concern to people with disabilities at Cabinet meetings.”

As Minister, the duty of Minister McGrath is to solve problems NOW-not just to raise issues at cabinet and to push remedies back to an indefinite future

RTE REPORT

At least 7,600 people with disabilities are on social housing waiting lists around the country.

Figures obtained by RTÉ’s Morning Ireland show that at the end of June 2017, 7,632 people with intellectual, mental, physical and sensory issues were waiting for social housing.

600,000 people in Ireland – 13.5% of the population – are living with a disability.

A number of housing options are available for people with disabilities including affordable housing, grants for home adaptations, housing associations and local authority housing and loans.

In Dublin, 1,010 people with disabilities were waiting for social housing at the end of last month.

Despite the difference in population size, there were similar numbers in Galway city and county with 1,096 people with disabilities on the list.

392 people in Cork city and 623 in Cork county were waiting for accommodation at the start of June.

In Clare, 217 of 2,628 applicants waiting for social housing had disabilities while there were 170 people with disabilities waiting in Carlow.

Almost 3,000 people in Wexford are on the social housing waiting list – 528 of them were people with a disability.

Tipperary also saw high numbers – 369 people with disabilities were looking for social housing and 400 in Louth.

At the end of June, 337 people in Limerick and almost 500 people in Kerry, also with disabilities, were waiting for social housing.

Local authorities in Offaly and Kilkenny did not supply figures.

Figures from Central Statistics Office show that among people with disabilities, 34.8% are at risk of poverty.

In a statement to Morning Ireland, the Disability Federation of Ireland said it is “alarmed” but not surprised at the number of people with disabilities on social housing waiting lists.

It said the “deepening housing crisis is the main issue” and that “in the case of people with disabilities, an already chronic housing situation is intensified by increasing rates of poverty and unemployment amongst people with disabilities”.

The DFI called on local authorities to follow up with targets for provision of accessible housing as the figures show the “need to both set and meet ambitious targets to address the problem”.

An increase of at least €90 million in the Capital Assistance Scheme is needed, it said.

Statistics from local authorities also show that more than 83,440 people were on social housing waiting lists half-way through the year.

A spokesperson for Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath said he shares the concerns of the Disability Federation of Ireland about the number of people with disabilities on the social housing list.

He also said that Minister McGrath recognises the difficulties facing people with disabilities in finding appropriate housing and will ensure that these needs are incorporated into FUTURE housing policies.

The minister, he said, will continue to raise this issue and other issues of concern to people with disabilities at Cabinet meetings.

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Disability Minister Finian McGrath Used Bogus Excuse For Ireland’s Delay in Ratifying The United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons With Disabilities.

The Real Reason is that the Government Does not Want To Provide The Money!

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Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission , Emily Logan Destroys Fake Explanation by Disabiity Minister Finian McGrath  on Today with Sean O’Rourke

Full Interview 6.40 mins into recording to 10.25 minutes

Click here:

http://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=b9%5F21209506%5F15036%5F27%2D07%2D2017%5F

Ombudsman: While People respect the bone fides of Minister McGrath as a long time campaigner for people with disabilities,I think it is very unhelpful to pitch the rights of people with disabilities and their carers and families against each other—

It is not a clash of rights

Pitching people against each other is really wrong. It is a narrative we should stop

While I have huge respect for Finian McGrath, it is not OK to let him go to allow him to go unchallenged  on this

Written Extracts From Interview

SOR:  Another issue, hundreds have demonstrated at Leinster house  over Ireland’s Failure to Ratify UN Convention on Rights of People With Disabilities -Minister Finian McGrath says he wanted to ratify the Convention  but  he spoke of a Clash between rights of people with disabilities and the rights of their families

Chief Commissioner: While People respect the bone fides of Minister McGrath as a long time campaigner for people with disabilities,I think it is very unhelpful to pitch the rights of people with disabilities and their carers and families against each other”

People with disabilities have a right to independent living in their own home

The more accurate clash is in relation to a clash in public policy-it is old fashioned- and how people believe that the right to independent living translates into people having  to be dependent on their famiies. That is not the case

Convention clearly states that people with disabilities should be supported  to live in any way they choose  to live

Disability Federation of Ireland were onto me- hundreds people well under 65 with physical disabilities are living in  nursing homes  because the state has not invested in supports in the form of personal assistants

The state needs primarily to listen to people with disabilities

There is no clash of rights here. The clash is within public policy

SOR:    Minister Mc Grath says there is such a clash-a big debate going on in the background- a family may be very concerned if a person with a disability refuses to go into an institution.

Chief Commissioner: This is a matter of choice .We must  respect the rights of the people with disabilities

That the state make greater efforts to provide assistance to hearing people with disabilities in the first instance

In the same case, as there may be a disagreement in any family on how a member may wish to live independently,  there may be such a disagreement in relation to a person with a disability.

It is not a clash of rights

Pitching people against each other is really wrong. It is a narrative we should stop

While I have huge respect for Finian McGrath, it is not OK to let him go to allow him to go unchallenged  on this

 ————————————————–

Emily Logan, Rights Ombudsman, on Sean O’Rourke July 27: “We should stop posing a conflict between the rights of people with disabilities and their parents”

MS lOGAN HAD BEEN ASKED TO COMMENT ON THE EXPLANATION GIVEN BY DISABILITY MINISTER FINIAN MCGRATH FOR THE DELAY IN RATIFYING THE UN CONVENTION ON RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

According to Minister Finian McGrath, legal disagreement over whether families should be allowed to “dump” disabled relatives in institutions is one of the key factors delaying ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.–Irish Times July 14

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Cynical Launch Of  Grossly Inadequate and Misleading “New” Disability Strategy By Minister For Disabilities, Finian McGrath Flanked By 4 Ministers at Croke Park

Advocacy Groups, Inclusion Ireland and the Disability Federation of Ireland, criticised a new multibillion euro Government plan to help people with disabilities by labelling it a “missed opportunity” that is “short on vision” and fails to address chronic poverty among those affected.

“Big Deal”

I carry articles below from Examiner  and Irish Times on Launch of “New” Disability Strategy Launched by Minister Finian McGrath  on Friday July 14.

When you read  “Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath committed to a series of reforms by the end of the decade as part of the New €1.65bn(?See BELOW-PH) national disability inclusion strategy 2017-2021” (Irish Examiner), you know nothing significant is going to be done anytime soon!!!  It is a device for politicians to pretend they are doing something without spending much money and that they “care”.  Note that it was launched in the Croke Park Conference Centre(Major National Initiative-“Big Deal” – “All_IRELAND PERFORMANCE” ) not in Buswells Hotel or the AV Room in Leinster House-

Even “Bigger Deal”  !!!!

“ALL OF GOVERNMENT PERFORMANCE”

“Also at the publication were Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty, Minister for Transport Shane Ross and Minister of State Kevin Boxer Moran. They said this reflected the “all-of-Government” support for the new strategy.”—Irish Times

Note the Minister Did not Say that Provision for Disability WOULD INCREASE BY 1.65 Billion per year over the period 2017 to 2021 nor that it would increase by one fifth of 1.65 Billion each year until 2021!

The presentation by the Minister and the Government Press Release were highly ambiguous and this was reflected in Press Reports.

In Fact As Reported on Government News service  http://www.merrionstreet.ie/en/News-Room/Releases/Minister_of_State_Finian_McGrath_launches_the_National_Disability_Inclusion_Strategy_2017-2021.html

Minister McGrath also highlighted key achievements since his appointment, which included:
· Securing an increase in Budget 2017(Last Budget) of €92 million for Disability Services bringing the annual total to €1.654bn
· Publishing Making Work Pay Report
· Providing Medical Cards for nearly 10,000 children in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance at a cost of €10M
· Launched the Taskforce on Personalised Budgets which will report by end 2017

It would appear that that 1.65 billion is the total annual budget for disability which increased by a mere 92 million in the last budget-not enough to restore the cuts to disability provision!!

Why did newspaper reports not make this clear?

TIMING

The launch of the “New” Strategy took place on the final sitting day of the Dáil until late September. The Minister will not be required to answer Dáil questions on disability provision for 2 months!!!

Deception, Maipulation, Manoeuvre-a Master Class by Minister McGrath!!!

-Paddy

 

Disability plan ‘short on vision’, say advocacy groups

Irish Examiner   Saturday, July 15, 2017

 

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

Irish Examiner Political Correspondent

Advocacy groups have criticised a new multibillion euro Government plan to help people with disabilities by labelling it a “missed opportunity” that is “short on vision” and fails to address chronic poverty among those affected.

Inclusion Ireland and the Disability Federation of Ireland made the claims after Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath committed to a series of reforms by the end of the decade as part of the new €1.65bn national disability inclusion strategy 2017-2021.

 

Under the plans announced by Mr McGrath at Croke Park in Dublin to replace the much maligned national disability strategy which ended two years ago, the Government has put forward new measures to ramp up for those in need.

 

The plans include greater help for people with disabilities who are seeking work, moves to ensure all public bodies will be legally obliged to offer free sign language interpretation for people with hearing issues, and to put strict conditions on wheelchair accessibility for passenger coach or train services.

 

The Government plan will also instigate a review of the Make Work Pay proposals to ensure they support people with disabilities, provide extra supports for people with disabilities who are travelling to work, and to address the cost of necessary aids and assistance technology used on a day-to-day basis.

 

Confirming the plans, Mr McGrath said the €1.65bn four-year plan is about a “whole Government” approach that will guarantee issues for people with disabilities are properly prioritised.

 

“When I was honoured with my appointment as minister for disabilities, my immediate and continuing focus was, and is, on the person with the disability.

 

“I have listened to the concerns which they have raised with me regarding the many challenges they face on a daily basis,” he said.

 

However, despite the positive comments, the plan has been criticised by disability groups and opposition parties for failing to go far enough and map out in greater detail the developments due to take place.

 

While welcoming the policies put forward, Inclusion Ireland last night said the overall plan is “short on vision” and “doesn’t go far enough to address the inequalities” faced by people with disabilities.

 

“Real inclusion is about people being visible, taking part and being involved, this new strategy does not deliver that. There has been a two-year gap since the previous strategy ended and not a single measure was fully implemented.

 

“Sadly, this strategy amounts to nothing more than a long, drawn-out missed opportunity.

 

“Other important objectives relating to decision-making, education, housing, supports to live independently and wellbeing addressing poverty, are either given scant reference or are watered down versions of the previous strategy,” the group’s chief executive Paddy Connolly said.

 

The view was echoed by the Disability Federation of Ireland, which said the plan lacks a focus on practical reforms and does little to address the significant levels of poverty among people with disabilities.

 

 

 

Finian McGrath pledges to ratify convention on people with disability

Irish Times Friday, July 14, 2017, 18:36

Legal disagreement over whether families should be allowed to “dump” disabled relatives in institutions is one of the key factors delaying ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, according to a Minister.

Minister of State with Responsibility for Disability Issues Finian McGrath said he “100 per cent” wanted to see the convention ratified, but he was still “sorting out a couple of matters in relation to legislation”.

Mr McGrath said in May last year the convention would be ratified “within six months”. Ireland signed the framework in 2007, but has not yet made it legally binding by ratifying the convention, making the Republic the only country in the EU not to have done so.

Asked what the ongoing legal obstacles were, Mr McGrath said: “The two key issues are deprivation of liberty and legislation on assisted decision-making.

“There’s a big debate going on behind the scenes with families. If there is a person with a disability who doesn’t want to go into a residential place, some of the families would be very, very concerned about that.”

He said there was a “clash of rights” between those of families who want to place disabled loved ones in an institutional setting, and the rights of disabled people who did not want to be there. This needed to be resolved legally.

He said he agreed with disability campaigners who have described this placing of relatives in institutions as akin to “kidnapping” or being “dumped” out of society.

Desire to leave

“Absolutely and I am on their page. I visited one [institution] recently in the southeast and one young man called me aside and said, ‘Finian, get me out of here . . . I want to have my own place. I want to have my breakfast and dinner when I want, watch my own television in my own bedroom’. And he was in this institution.”

He said the man was in his early 30s and had been placed there when he “about seven”.

“My job is to get those people out of those institutions that want to go, and get supports in place for them.”

He said 233 people would be supported to move out of such settings this year

Mr McGrath was speaking to media at the publication of a new National Disability Inclusion Strategy in Dublin. The 47-page strategy sets out 114 actions to be taken between now and the end of 2021, across eight areas, including education, employment, housing, transport and accessible places, and person-centred disability services. The strategy will, if implemented, impact positively on the lives of about 600,000 people.

Also at the publication were Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty, Minister for Transport Shane Ross and Minister of State Kevin Boxer Moran. They said this reflected the “all-of-Government” support for the new strategy.

Some €1.654 billion will be put into services underpinning it.

Among its actions is one to “introduce statutory safeguards to protect residents of nursing homes and residential centres and ensure they are not deprived of liberty save in accordance with the law and as a last-resort measure in exceptional circumstances”.s

© 2017 irishtimes.com

 

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Waiting Time for Assessment of Disabled Children Has Worsened under Minister for Disabilities, Finian McGrath-Seamus Healy TD

 “Unfortunately, since this Government has come to power and Deputy Finian McGrath has taken responsibility for the issue, the position has dissimproved. We have gone from a situation where there was reasonable compliance with the law to one where we now have a waiting time of two years for the commencement of an assessment in Co Tipperary. The situation is being ignored.”–Seamus Healy TD in Question to Taoiseach in Dáil

 

Deputy Seamus Healy:   The HSE is deliberately and flagrantly breaking the law by denying children with disabilities their statutory entitlements to assessments of needs.

The Disability Act 2005 provides for an assessment of the health and education needs of person with disabilities and provides for services to meet those needs. Section 9(5) provides that the executive shall cause an assessment of applicants to be commenced within three months of the date of receipt of an application. The background information and supporting documentation refer to the need for services to be provided early in life in order to ameliorate a disability. The Act provides that the assessments must be started within three months of the application and that the HSE must complete the assessment within three months. That is a legal requirement on the HSE as set out in the legislation. Unfortunately, that is not the situation that obtains nationwide. The legal entitlement of children with a disability is being breached routinely by the HSE. Children are not being assessed within the three-month period and there are huge delays in assessment. The service is broken and there must be an immediate solution to the problem.

The current situation for children in terms of assessment of needs is totally unacceptable and I will give a few examples. A child was referred for assessment on 8 September 2016 but a letter from the HSE states that the child is currently scheduled for assessment in September 2018. Another was referred for assessment on 19 January 2017 but the HSE letter indicates that the waiting time for assessment is approximately 24 months. A third child was referred in January 2017 and was told by the HSE that the assessment would commence in April 2019, a full 27 months away. This is simply not good enough. That child is now over three years old and will be over five years old in two years’ time.

Early intervention is absolutely crucial in order to ensure that children with disabilities are properly looked after and have services provided for them. Vulnerable children with disabilities are being mistreated by the HSE and are being denied their legal rights. Does the Taoiseach condone the routine breach of the law by a State agency, namely, the HSE? What does he propose to do about it? Will he instruct the HSE to abide by the law and ensure that every child is assessed in accordance with the law?

The Taoiseach:   This is an important subject. The Government has prioritised disability by appointing Deputy Finian McGrath as Minister of State at the Department of Health to sit at the Cabinet table and articulate the concerns and anxieties relating to this area on a regular basis. Disability funding has increased over the past year and early intervention services and services for school-age children with disabilities need to be improved and organised more effectively. This process is well under way and the HSE is engaged in reconfiguring its therapy resources into geographically-based teams for children aged from birth to 18. The objective of the new model of assessment and intervention is to provide a single, clear referral pathway for all children, irrespective of the disability they have, where they live or the school they attend, as evidence shows that is an important element of progress.

Some €8 million in additional funding was invested in 2014-2015 in order to provide 200 additional posts to support the implementation of that model. A further €4 million in additional funding was allocated in respect of 75 therapy posts in 2016 and it is expected that, as this reconfiguration of services takes place, it will have a significant impact on the HSE’s ability to meet the needs of children and young people in a much more efficient, effective and equitable manner.

In 2013, 260 front-line primary care staff positions were approved.

 

That included 52 occupational therapists and 52 speech and language therapists. The aim is for that recruitment to continue which will lead to a reduction in waiting lists and times. A further €4 million was provided in that regard in 2014.

Since the June 2007 commencement of Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005, the HSE has endeavoured to meet its legislative requirements as specifically referred to by Deputy Healy. The number of applications for assessment under the Act has increased each year since it was introduced. It is anticipated that in excess of 6,000 applications will be received this year. It can take a significant period to determine accurately the nature of a disability which a child might have. Although there has been continual investment in this area, there are significant challenges in meeting the statutory timeframes which apply to the assessment of the needs process. The Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy McGrath, is dealing with the delay in assessments. He is trying to resolve those delays by direct consultation. There is an ongoing recruitment campaign to combat the issue of staff shortage. The Minister of State is working with the HSE to deal with this in order that the requirements of the Act can be met by the HSE and there are no delays beyond the period for assessment and determination of a disability.

Deputy Seamus Healy:   The Taoiseach has not answered the question. The HSE, which is a State agency, is breaking the law. I asked the Taoiseach if he condones that and if he will ensure that does not happen in the future. Unfortunately, since this Government has come to power and Deputy Finian McGrath has taken responsibility for the issue, the position has disimproved. We have gone from a situation where there was reasonable compliance with the law to one where we now have a waiting time of two years for the commencement of an assessment. The situation is being ignored. It has been raised in this House by several Deputies through parliamentary questions and as a Topical Issue matter. It has been ignored. The Taoiseach’s answer indicates that it is still being ignored. The current situation is that where an assessment of need has not been completed, there are consequent delays in the provision of children’s services such as speech and language therapy and the appointment of special needs assistants and resource teachers. The inaction of the HSE is unacceptable, deplorable and illegal. Does the Taoiseach condone that illegality and what he will do to ensure the HSE abides by the law?

The Taoiseach:   It is not acceptable for any State agency to be outside the legal requirements of what it has to do. The Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy McGrath, who has special responsibility for disability issues, sits at the Cabinet table, has a substantial budget and is working assiduously to deal with this issue. If there are 6,000 assessments to be carried out this year, more than 100 must take place each week. Many of these assessments are quite complex and take a period of time to assess accurately.

Deputy Seamus Healy:   I am concerned with assessments that have not been commenced. People have been waiting two years.

The Taoiseach:   As the Deputy knows, parents have every right to know the nature and scale of the disability that their child or children may have to deal with. The Act itself—–

Deputy Seamus Healy:   They are being left in limbo.

An Ceann Comhairle:   Will Deputy Healy please allow the Taoiseach to finish?

The Taoiseach:   There has been much collaboration between the health and education sectors on the issue of children’s disability. That is facilitated by the cross-sectoral team and the implementation of the Disability Act. That team comprises representatives of the Department of Health, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the HSE executive, the National Council for Special Education and the National Educational Psychological Service. As Deputy Healy is aware, a detailed report was compiled by Mr. Eamon Stack, chairman of the National Council for Special Education, which sets out a progressive way of dealing with the issue. While waiting lists are unacceptable and should not exist, the Minister of State is at the forefront of dealing with the delays. In the near future, it is hoped the law in terms of assessment for children will be fully complied with, unlike the current situation where children have to wait for longer than they should.

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

DUTY OF BRITISH SOCIALISTS TO ACTIVELY SUPPORT IRISH UNITY AND INDEPENDENCE

May 8, 2017 2 comments

The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination-V. I. Lenin

“Victorious socialism must achieve complete democracy and, consequently, not only bring about the complete equality of nations, but also give effect to the right of oppressed nations to self-determination, i.e., the right to free political secession.”

The Principled Position Of All British Left Wing Organisation Should Be For the Full unity and Independence of Ireland and Complete Disengagement of the British State from Ireland. BUT WHAT IS THE REALITY?

The Position of British Left wing Groups on British disengagement from Ireland is a key ctiterion for assessing the political position of their Irish sister bodies and their own credentials as principled British revolutionaries.

Positions of British Left Wing Groups on Ireland

Jeremy Corbyn British Labour Party Leader:  “British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has reiterated his support for a united Ireland. Asked whether he supported unification during an interview with the New Statesman current magazine, Mr Corbyn answered, “it’s an aspiration that I have always gone along with”. Thu, Sep 24, 2015

From Their Websites:

Socialist Party UK (Trotskyist) (Irish Sister Bodies: SP(I) ,SP (NI), Solidarity (RoI), Labour Alternative (NI)
“Socialism and Internationalism
• No to imperialist wars and occupations”. (No  mention of British Occupation of Ireland-PH)
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SWP UK (Trotskyist) Irish Sister Bodies SWP (I) PBP(I)
Against imperialism
Colin Barker continues his series on the ‘Where We Stand’ Socialist Workers Party statement of principles printed each week in Socialist Worker
“At many stop the war stalls British soldiers’ mothers and partners stop to sign petitions. They report what the soldiers themselves say: “We’re not there to help the Iraqis but to grab the oil.”At present Iraq is like a colony of the US, directly ruled on Washington’s orders. The US is building bases there, and trying to shape the new government. However, when direct US rule ends, imperialist control will continue.”-(No mention of British Occupation of Ireland-PH)
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CP(UK) Irish Sister Organisation CP(I)
“The Communist Party supports the right of self-determination of the Irish people and campaigns for Britain to renounce all claims on Ireland.”
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Socialist Fight (Trotskyist) Irish Sister Organisation None
“As socialists living in Britain we take our responsibilities to support the struggle against British imperialism’s occupation of the six north-eastern counties of Ireland very seriously. For this reason we have assisted in founding the Irish Republican Prisoners Support Group and we will campaign for political status these Irish prisoners of war and for a 32-county united Socialist Ireland. We reject all ‘two nations in Ireland’ theories.”

 

New Communist Party of Britain

“The party stands for the withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland and supports the “. . . struggle for Irish national independence and self-determination. The NCP demands a united sovereign Ireland free from all outside interference. . . . The NCP acknowledges the role of Sinn Fein as the vanguard force in the struggle for national liberation”. (New Communist Party: Documents of the 12th National Congress; London; 1997; p.32, p.34).

 

Categories: Uncategorized

FORMAL DECLARATION OF NATIONAL HOUSING EMERGENCY BY GOVERNMENT NEEDED TO STOP EVICTIONS, REPOSSESSIONS, TERMINATION OF TENANCIES AND TO ENABLE COMPULSORY PURCHASE ORDERS FOR VACANT PROPERTIES

April 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Time for a One-Day General Strike on Housing-Seamus Healy TD

Listen Live To Seamus’ Dail Speech  https://youtu.be/UKRKNPEeIAA

Ictu wants Government to declare national housing emergency

Sarah Bardon,  Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 00:01

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) will on Wednesday call on the Government to declare a national emergency on housing.

In a new policy paper, Ictu strongly criticises the Government for failing to tackle the housing crisis, and calls for initiatives to be introduced in Budget 2018.

A sharp increase in the output of social housing to a rate of at least 10,000 per annum by late 2018 or early 2019, the introduction of a 6 per cent vacant site levy and the use of compulsory purchase orders are some of the proposals made by the Ictu.

In its housing policy document it says the key priority for the State is to avoid reliance on the private sector, and increase the build of social housing dramatically. The local authorities, it says, should drive the building with the financial assistance of the State.

The focus initially should be on the five areas of greatest social housing need – Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford.

The paper, seen by The Irish Times, reads: “It should be clearly understood that this target should only be pursued as part of an integrated strategy of well-planned, mixed-income housing, with an equal third going to social, affordable rental and affordable purchase housing provided by local authorities.

Weak public services

“We do not want a return to the large-scale, poorly planned estates located on the outskirts of major urban areas with few facilities and weak public services.

“Social housing must be provided in the context of new spatial and environmental plans at local authority and regional level that address transport, water, waste and social services’ needs.”

The unions stress the failure to invest in housing will cost the State in the long-term, and will make Ireland unattractive to external investment.

The Ictu says compulsory purchase orders should be used to acquire vacant land and homes, while a vacant site levy should be brought forward for introduction in 2018 at a rate of 6 per cent. It insists all monies generated from such a system should be ring-fenced for homelessness services.

The paper says the issue has affected every person in the country, and requires a multi-dimensional approach involving a significantly enhanced role for local authorities

Human suffering

“Given the extent of human suffering caused by this public policy failure, as well as the economic damage it is doing, the housing situation should be treated as an emergency. This is not a matter of choice, but an absolute necessity.”

Greater flexibility from Europe is also required to allow for off-balance sheet investments, it adds.

The Ictu has also called for the abolishment of the first-time buyer scheme, claiming it is a wasteful use of public money that is increasing house prices to the benefit of the seller.

The money, it says, should be allocated to local authorities, and used to expand housing supply and thereby reduce price increases for first-time buyers.

Meanwhile, the Dáil will on Wednesday discuss a proposal by People Before Profit/Solidarity to have a referendum to insert the right to housing into the Constitution and to delimit private property rights.

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Fake Housing Summit Fails to Formally Declare a National Housing Emergency as Central Bank Predicts Increase in Evictions and Repossessions as Vultures Sell Off and Prepare to Leave

Murphy’s social housing plan ‘falls far short’-Irish Examiner, 09/09/2017

Plans to increase the number of social houses being built “fall far short” of what is required to address the escalating crisis, a key homeless charity has claimed.

Focus Ireland said the meeting had produced some positive proposals, but had failed to live up to the expectations created by the decision to bill it as a summit.

Focus Ireland director of advocacy, Mike Allen, said the proposals announced were “dominated by managing the emergency rather than tackling the problem”.

Mr Allen said the plans failed to address areas that the organisation had identified as crucial, including a vacant homes tax, legislative action to stop evictions from buy-to-let properties, and increases in housing assistance payments to match rent hikes.

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FROM ICTU PRE-BUDGET SUBMISSION

“Government must now step in and declare a national housing emergency and  act accordingly.

We abandoned the housing market to private developers and let profit

become the key driver of housing provision.

The market has failed.

Given that this is an emergency, compulsory purchase orders must be utilised

as a matter of urgency to ensure available serviced land is put to good use,

while the introduction the vacant site levy should be brought forward

from January 2019.”

Comment:

ICTU Made A Similar Call in Early July Through Secretary General, Patrocia King . Government totally ignored the ICTU call. When will ICTU  actually DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?

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Government Failure on Homelessness Due to Putting Property Rights Ahead of the Interests of Tenants –Focus Ireland

Irish Times   Sat, Sept 2, 2017

Charities involved in helping homeless families have criticised the Minister for Housing for claiming “ideology” does not play a role in the housing crisis.

Focus Ireland Advocacy Manager Roughan MacNamara told The Irish Times: “We’re never going to tackle this problem if we don’t reduce the flow of people coming into homelessness.

“There is a failure to understand how critical that obvious point is that you need to cut the numbers coming in and not just look at the emergency measures when they’re homeless.

This is a question of ideology. It’s putting property rights ahead of the rights of tenants.”

The housing charity criticised the Government for voting down the so-called Focus Ireland anti-homelessness amendment late last year which called for an end to evictions of tenants in buy-to-let properties that were being sold or repossessed.

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Surge in Homeless In July 2017

Mike Allen, head of advocacy with Focus Ireland, described the increased homeless figures “shocking” .

He said 99 families had presented as newly homeless in Dublin in July, a record high for the past 18 months. “The reduced inflow we had been seeing at the end of 2016 and earlier this year has gone entirely and we are back to rising inflow figures.”

The number of homeless children in all forms of emergency accommodation in Dublin during the week July 24th-30th was 2,423 in 1,178 families an increase of 153 children and an increase of 63 families in 1 month

Irish Times Kitty Holland   Sept 1, 2017

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/surge-in-the-number-of-homeless-children-in-dublin-1.3205167

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Launch of #MyNameis , a Campaign by Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) to Highlight the 2,895 Children who are without a Home in Ireland today

“We are facing into this crisis that’s escalating, the potential scenario of up to 6,000 children being homeless in Dublin Alone by 2020.”-Dr Rory Hearne, TASC

A home repossession “guillotine is on the way down”, dwarfing the current homeless crisis and creating a huge catastrophe.  David Hall (IMHO)

‘An entire Croke Park of people could end up homeless’

Joyce Fegan , Irish Examiner, Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A home repossession “guillotine is on the way down”, dwarfing the current homeless crisis and creating a huge catastrophe.

That is according to the CEO of the Irish Mortgage Holders’ Organisation (IMHO), David Hall, based on a recent discussion he had with a major bank.

“We think we have a problem at the moment, for those of us dealing with people who are in mortgage arrears, there are 33,000 families in arrears of more than two years,” said Mr Hall.

“There are 15,000 people in long-term arrears in buy-to-let properties. Each of those represents, depending whatever statistical analysis you want to do, three-and-a-half bodies.

“That’s an entire Croke Park of people that will dwarf this housing crisis and turn it into a complete catastrophe.”

David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders’ Organisation says there are 33,000 families in arrears of more than two years.

He was speaking at the launch of #MyNameis yesterday, a campaign by Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) to highlight the 2,895 children who are without a home in Ireland today.“The problem now is the ECB [European Central Bank] is saying: ‘Eighteen months, lads [to clear loan books].’“I met one of the major banks two weeks ago and I said to him: ‘I’m aware the guillotine is going to drop in 18 months,’ and he interrupted me and said: ‘Forget about 18 months’ time, David. The guillotine is on the way down.’

“And that will mean fast and furious loan sales of family homes to protect the balance sheet of their portfolios and there is a small, tiny window of maybe 12 months [to address this].”

Also speaking yesterday was economist Rory Hearne, who recently co-authored Investing in the Right to a Home: Housing, HAPs [housing assistant payments] and Hubs. He said 3,000 housing units could be built within 12 months.

Rory Hearne: 3,000 homes could be built on State-owned land in 12 months ‘if the will was there and the capital funding was allocated’.

“The most recent study that was done by the Government’s housing management group found that there were 730 hectares of State-owned land ready for building to launch a programme of construction,” said Mr Hearne.

“That includes a significant amount of land in Dublin’s inner city. The public land is sitting there.

“They could build two to 3,000 housing units within 12 months if the will was there and the capital funding was allocated to it. That is the solution that is there otherwise we are facing into this crisis that’s escalating, the potential scenario of up to 6,000 children being homeless in Dublin by 2020.”

During the research for his paper on housing, Mr Hearne spoke to a number of families already living in emergency accommodation and detailed the impact it has on children and parents.

“We saw directly the impact on children of being homeless and you can see, over time, the deterioration,” said Mr Hearne. “It’s basic things. It’s going to school in the morning knowing they don’t have a home to go back to. It’s basic things like watching the worry and stress in their parents not being able to
access a home.

“Different parents told us that their child was asking: ‘When are we going to go home?’ And the parents having to say: ‘Well this is our home for the moment.’ ”

Anthony Flynn, CEO of ICHH, said he has visited the hubs that homeless families are now being placed in as an emergency accommodation measure instead of hotels and B&Bs, and said they are run like direct provision centres.

Anthony Flynn, left, and Michael Caul at the launch of #MyNameIs, a social media campaign to highlight homelessness. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

“The hubs are being portrayed as the answer to the housing crisis and they’re not,” said Mr Flynn.

“It’s basically direct provision. You eat at this time, you drink at that time, and you go to bed at that time.

“Let’s inspect the units that they’re not showing us that we have families in. They’re unacceptable. You’ve urine-soaked mattresses, blood-stained mattresses. You’ve shower units that have sewage coming back up into the basins. We’ve got photographs.”

The #MyNameis campaign got underway yesterday with posters of homeless children’s faces going up right around the country.

The campaign was initiated after reports emerged of three children, aged six, nine, and 11, being given sleeping bags in the capital this summer when no emergency accommodation was available.

The organisers are asking people to use the hashtag #MyNameis on social media to start conversations about homelessness, to lobby councillors, TDs or prospective political candidates on the issue, and to get people to reflect on their skill or trade to see if they can volunteer an hour of their time to help an organisation in their area.

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Rents at all time high, supply all time low – Daft.ie

“Housing Catastrophe coming down the road”- Fr McVerry  Interview on Radio

“For example Cerberus is to repossess 2,900 dwellings-77 court cases already taken in 2017

Only 75 local authority houses built in entire state last year.

 Government must make it illegal for banks or landlords to evict people into homelessness—Acquire property for social housing by compulsory purchase order if necessary

Some landlords are keeping property vacant so that they can sell it at a profit in a few years time, that is not acceptable. Government policy has failed.”

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Rents at all time high, supply all time low – Daft.ie

As Governments Protects Big Landlords and the Super-Rich and FG-Ind Alliance-FF-Greens Oppose Formal Declaration of a Housing Emergency

RTE News  Tuesday, 22 Aug 2017 01:59

The average monthly rent nationwide in the second quarter of this year was €1,159, up 12%.

Average rental prices reached a new record high during the first six months of this year, while supply is at an all-time low.

That’s according to the latest rental report by property website, Daft.ie.

€1,159 – that’s the average monthly rent nationwide in the second quarter of this year, up 12%.

Daft.ie says this is the fifth quarter in a row a new all-time high has been set.

In Dublin, the increase in rents in the year to June was over 12%.

That means rents in the capital are up €260 a month since their previous peak in 2008.

Elsewhere, rents rose by 6.8% in Cork, while in Galway the average rent is €732 – 10% higher than a year previously.

At €525, Leitrim is the county with the cheapest average monthly rent.

The property website also says that there were just under 3,000 properties available to rent nationwide on August 1 – the lowest number they have ever recorded.

In its response to the latest Daft.ie figures, the Peter McVerry Trust has urged the Government to fund the building of affordable rental housing.

The national housing and homeless charity says the rising cost of rent is the main source of new homeless cases.

Focus Ireland has said the Government review of Rebuilding Ireland must include immediate action to ease the rental crisis and to get more vacant homes back into the housing stock.

Reacting to the latest Daft report, the Labour party’s spokesperson on Housing, Jan O’Sullivan, said it shows the absolute failure of the Government’s Rent Pressure Zone model to slow the pace of increases in the rental market.

————————

Census Shows 765 Children Under 4 among  Almost 7000 Homeless !

Barnardos, Fr McVerry Support Call For FORMAL DECLARATION OF NATIONAL HOUSING  EMERGENCY Made By Seamus Healy TD In Dáil over 6 months ago 

People Facing  Homelessness Should Know:

Those who opposed the Amendment of Seamus Healy TD to the Housing Bill Declaring a National Housing Emergency are responsible

GOVERNMENT DEFEATED Amendment Calling For Formal Declaration of a National Housing Emergency with Support of Independent Alliance ,Labour Party and the Greens.  Fianna Fail and Rural Independents ABSTAINED

SIPTU CALLS FOR DECLARATION OF A HOUSING EMERGENCY!

BUT LABOUR TO WHICH UNION IS AFFILIATED VOTED AGAINST IT IN Dáil!

Housing Minister Coveney explained to the Dáil that he was advised by Attorney General Mara Whelan that due to the protection of private property clause in the Irish  Constitution the imposition on private property owners had to be “proportional”.

Accordingly he insisted that the property owner could evict tenants on sale of the property  unless the  the number of dwellings  being sold exceeded ten dwellings. The  landlord could also insist on the tenant leaving if the sale price with vacant possession exceeded the sale price with a continuing tenant by more than 20%

Seamus Healy TD pointed out that the protection of private property in the Constitution is not absolute but is subject to the public good. Accordingly the declaration of a national housing emergency would enable   all tenants to be protected. The government had already declared a national financial emergency which enabled private property in pensions to be confiscated. But it was refusing to make a similar declaration in the matter of housing which would enable tenants to keep a roof over their heads

Amendment to Housing Bill to Prevent Evictions by Seamus Healy TD

Deputy Seamus Healy: I move amendment No. 53:

In page 38, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:

“29. Dáil Éireann formally declares that a housing emergency exists in the State and while this emergency continues the right of any person to remain in the dwelling in which the person currently resides will take precedence over any property right of any other person—

(a) accordingly no court or other authority shall order the removal of the current occupant of a dwelling, or by its decisions enable such removal notwithstanding the provisions of any Act currently in force including the provisions of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2013,

(b) the housing emergency declared in this section can only be terminated by a vote of Dáil Éireann, and the Government, including any Minister of the Government, are precluded from annulling the housing emergency without approval in such a vote,

(c) in view of the housing emergency declared here, the power of any Minister of Government to raise the market value threshold of €75,000 for single or multiple dwellings for consideration of possession of dwellings cases by the Circuit Court by activating or commencing sections of existing Acts without approval by a vote of Dáil Éireann, is cancelled.”.

I will speak particularly to amendments Nos. 53 and 80. The former concerns the declaration of a housing emergency; the latter is the Focus Ireland amendment regarding buy-to-let properties and the eviction of tenants on the sale of such properties.

The Government proposals in the Bill will mean that tenants in buy-to-let properties being sold by landlords will have to leave the property if the landlord can get at least 20% more in the sale price with vacant possession than with continuing tenants. At a time of a huge lack of housing, it is lawful under the Bill to evict a tenant in order that the landlord can secure 20% extra on a sale, which is outrageous. It is cruel and anti-human. Focus Ireland tells us that a third of homeless people have had to leave buy-to-let properties on the sale of those properties. Children in these cases must go to a hotel, temporary accommodation, hostel accommodation or other unsuitable accommodation in order that a landlord can make more money from a sale. This situation is dealt with in other jurisdictions to the effect that on the sale of a property by a landlord, the tenancy continues. We simply must ensure that such a measure is adopted here and that tenants are treated reasonably, fairly and respectfully and that they are not thrown out on the road when buy-to-let landlords sell properties. There are already 2,500 children and 6,800 adults who are homeless. We are adding to these figures and we simply must stop that.

This is all in the context of the Government itself evicting householders and families through the banks it owns, namely, AIB, PTSB and EBS. In response to a question asked at a recent Oireachtas finance committee meeting, a representative of AIB said 2,879 court hearings relating to owner-occupied mortgage debt were in progress at the end of June of this year and 767 orders for possession had been granted. This has been widely reported in the press and was dealt with at the committee. We own Allied Irish Banks. The Minister can instruct the bank not to continue with repossessions. Such repossessions are adding to our housing crisis and emergency.

This year is the 100th anniversary of 1916. The first Dáil in 1919 proclaimed:

We declare in the words of the Irish Republican Proclamation the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be indefeasible, and in the language of our first President. Pádraíg Mac Phiarais, we declare that the Nation’s sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the Nation, but to all its material possessions, the Nation’s soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the Nation, and with him we reaffirm that all right to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare.

The 1916 Proclamation reads, “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible.”

We have an absolute housing emergency. The Minister has acknowledged this on numerous occasions. However, he and his Government refuse to have such an emergency declared in Dáil Éireann. They are prepared to declare a financial emergency and have done so and extended that emergency in June to ensure cuts to the pay and pensions of public service workers but they refuse to declare an emergency to ensure that families have roofs over their heads, that evictions are stopped and that we have rent certainty and security of tenure. Unfortunately, not alone will the Bill before us not help the situation, but it will make matters worse. It is a pretence. As I said earlier, tenants can be removed from buy-to-let properties in the circumstances I have outlined. We need to stop this. We need to support the Focus Ireland amendment to ensure that tenants, on the sale of these buy-to-let properties by landlords, remain in their properties and that we do not add to the already very difficult and traumatic situation faced by families and children.

The declaration of a housing emergency by this Dáil is absolutely necessary to ensure we can deal with the housing emergency and to ensure the right to a roof over one’s head takes priority over private property. Everything else in the Bill and the many other suggestions, such as the rent strategy, are all very fine but they do not deal fundamentally with the problem we have. The declaration of a housing emergency is required to stop, as I said, the evictions, to ensure rent certainty and rent control and to build local authority houses.

This Government and previous Governments have refused to build local authority houses since about 2002. They privatised the local authority housing. Local authorities have not been allowed to build houses since about 2002. I think 75 houses were built last year. In the 1970s, we built up to 10,000 local authority houses every year. We simply must get back to this level of building because there are huge numbers of families out there who will never be able to buy their own home. Because of the manner in which families now get on local authority lists – or maybe do not – a very significant section of the population neither qualifies for a loan or a mortgage nor to get on the local authority list. They are caught in the middle with absolutely no support whatever. They cannot rub two euro together. They exist, unfortunately, from hand to mouth. I meet them every day of the week, as I am sure many, if not all, Deputies meet similar people. They are caught in a situation in which they neither have a mortgage nor are they on a local authority housing list. The income limit for local authority housing lists has been slashed, as has the number of local authority mortgages and bank mortgages given out to people who are effectively working but who are the working poor. These people find themselves paying astronomical and extortionate rents in many cases. I came across a case recently in which a landlord had increased the rent from €560 per month to €750 per month, and that is not the only case. Rents are simply unaffordable for everybody, but particularly for this category of people who do not even qualify for the HAP scheme, as bad as the HAP scheme is.

Deputy Catherine Connolly TD and Barrister:

Catherine Connolly:  “I agree with Deputy Seamus Healy on the need for the Government to declare a national emergency. He has asked for it as have I and other Dáil colleagues. Although there is a national housing emergency, the Government has not declared it.”

VOTE ON CALL FOR DEClaration of Housing Emergency

Amendment put:

The Dáil divided: Tá, 34; Staon, 24; Níl, 59.

Staon Níl
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Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seamus Healy and Ruth Coppinger; Níl, Deputies Regina Doherty and Tony McLoughlin.

Amendment declared lost.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 34; Staon, 24; Níl, 59.

Tá  Independent Seamus Healy,Rural Independent Michael Collins, Sinn Féin,AAA, PBP,Independents 4 Change

Formal Abstention, Fianna Fail

Against     LABOUR, INDEPENDENT ALLIANCE (Including Finian McGrath), Rural Independent Michael Fitmaurice, Indepenent Michael Lowry, Fine Gael

Missing : Rural Independent Mattie McGrath,Independent Dr Harty,  D Healy Rae, M Healy Rae, John Halligan (Independent alliance),Some FF and FG Deputies also missing

GOVERNMENT IGNORES ICTU CALL FOR CHANGE OF HOUSING POLICY -FAILS TO ANSWER PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION FROM SEAMUS HEALY TD

Seamus has officially complained to Ceann Chomhairle that the Minister made no attempt to answer the specific questions asked and has sought that the Minister be instructed to answer the questions asked-Paddy

QUESTION NO: 460

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy)
by Deputy Seamus Healy
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 12/07/2017

To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning; Community and Local Government his views on a media report by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied)

Interview With Patricia King on Morning Ireland
http://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=b9%5F21197014%5F48%5F04%2D07%2D2017%5F

Will he agree that “We now have a housing emergency and that the Market system has failed and is entirely dysfunctional in housing and that Local authorities should be immediately funded to build social housing with State and Local authority Lands being used to build social housing only That enough of the 200,000 voids identified in Census to solve the crisis should be taken over quite quickly, using Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) where necessary; That 3.5 billion from AIB share sale should not be used to pay down debt but to build social housing-there are over 90,000 families on housing lists; That we do have a choice , That we must tell Financial Europe-“We do need to write down the debt but you have to wait-our housing needs come first”” and Will He and his government IMPLEMENT The Actions Advocated by The ICTU General Secretary; Interview With Patricia King on Morning Ireland
http://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=b9%5F21197014%5F48%5F04%2D07%2D2017%5F

REPLY.

This Government recognises the housing access and affordability pressures faced by many households, particularly in certain parts of the country. It is for this reason that the overarching objective of  the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness is to increase the supply of new homes to 25,000 per annum by 2020 and, in particular, to boost the supply of high quality social and affordable homes, to buy or rent, as quickly as possible, in areas where demand is greatest.

With particular regard to the needs of those on the social housing waiting lists, Rebuilding Ireland set a target of delivering 47,000 social housing units through build, refurbishment, acquisition and leasing over the period to 2021, alongside an accelerated roll-out of the Housing Assistance Payment Scheme to some 80,000 households.

This activity is being supported through a significantly increased investment programme of €5.35 billion, comprising €4.5 billion in capital funding and €844 million in support of programmes funded from current expenditure.  A further €226 million is provided for the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund for investment in key enabling infrastructure to open up lands for early development.

While still at an early stage of implementation, there is already strong evidence that the focus on increasing and accelerating housing supply in Rebuilding Ireland is yielding results.  In terms of social housing, in 2016, the housing needs of over 19,000 households were met through a range of social housing programmes, supported by expenditure of over €935 million.  A further €1.3 billion has been provided in 2017 to support the accelerated delivery of social housing and the achievement of the 2017 target to meet the housing needs of over 21,000 households.

In terms of housing more broadly, a suite of measures have been put in place to make housing construction viable at more affordable price points, including the €226m Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund; leveraging the value of State-owned lands to deliver a more affordable rental offering in Rent Pressure Zones; streamlined planning systems for housing developments; and other planning reforms to provide flexibility to deliver viable housing schemes and apartment developments in the right locations.  In addition, analysis of vacant dwellings data from the Census 2016 provides strong evidence for targeted policies to maximise the number of vacant properties that can be brought back into use, especially in our cities and large towns where demand is greatest.

While we are coming from a low base, all recent key indicators show that the house-building sector is continuing to gather strength and pace. Planning permissions for 17,934 new homes were granted in the twelve-month period to end March 2017, representing a 39% increase year on year. Commencement Notices for 15,579 new homes nationwide were submitted in the twelve-month period to end May 2017, a 42% increase year on year. ESB connections for the twelve-month period to end May 2017 reached 16,340 across the country, showing a 19% increase year on year.  Furthermore, the recently published RTB Rent Index shows a significant moderation in the rate of rent increases, with rents virtually flat during the first quarter of 2017.

While this is encouraging, considerable further progress is needed and we will continue to closely monitor trends in that regard. In addition, a focused review of Rebuilding Ireland is now underway, targeted for completion in September. The aim of the review is to build on the significant progress already being made, strengthen the measures in place and identify additional measures to underpin further momentum in the months and years ahead.

 

 

 

 

Limerick families facing eviction as fund seeks to sell off city apartments

 CLLR JOHN GILLIGAN BLASTS TERMINATION NOTICE AS ‘TOTALLY IMMORAL’

 

Nick Rabbitts

Limerick Leader 20 Apr 2017

esidents Alex Grigorjeus, Alan McCarthy and Ryan Mowat with Cllr Gilligan

UP to 14 families are facing eviction from their homes in Limerick city as their new landlord seeks to sell on the apartments.

Residents in a number of two bed apartments at Fishermans Quay at the Grove Island woke up on Good Friday morning to notices informing them they had to leave their homes on various dates throughout the summer.

The letters sent on behalf of their landlord, Munster Pensioner Trustees Ltd, state that due to the fact they intend selling the property, the current tenants must “vacate and give up possession of the dwelling”.

The Leader understands the pension fund purchased the properties earlier this year.

Residents have pledged to fight to stay in their homes and have gained the support of local Independent councillor John Gilligan, who said that while the landlord’s action is legal, “it’s almost certainly immoral”.

Alan McCarthy, who lives with his only son Daniel, 19, in one of the apartments, said once he received the termination notice he “couldn’t stop being sick”.

“My whole life has been turned upside down. I had just come back from walking on the Canal Bank and a poor swan had hit the wire. I had to dive him to save him from drowning. I thought I had my good deed done for the day. But no good deed goes unpunished apparently,” he said.

Alan – who pays rent of €550 a month – added: “I think it’s all about money. Someone is trying to make a fast buck at our expense”.

The Property Price Register, the national database of all residential sales, currently lists two apartments as sold at Fishermans Quay. One sold for €111,000, the other for €89,300, both in the last month.

A number of other apartments in the complex are on the market from €100,000, while a unit there was recently listed for rent at €900 per month.

Alan also criticised the timing of the letter, adding: “It just suggests a total lack of any heart. I’m not particularly religious, but on Good Friday – come on! That’s not particularly nice.”

The letter was dated Thursday, April 13, but Alan says he received it the following morning.

Ryan Mowat, 20, has lived in the complex for five years with his father Andy.

He said: “We were shocked, and taken aback. We’ve been living here the last five years and have never been happier.

“To get a letter telling us to pack up and go – because we don’t want you – is not right.”

Cllr Gilligan condemned the letters, saying: “These people will have no place to go. These people have the indignity of being kicked out on the side of the road.

“These are hard working decent families who should not be treated like this. Nobody should accept this kind of treatment by a faceless individual.”

Munster Pensioner Trustees Ltd – which has an address in Castletroy – referred queries from the Leader onto the management firm in the area Kersten Mehl Property Management.

Mr Mehl said: “We have managed this complex for the last eight years. I received instructions to issue these notices on a number of two bedroom apartments, as the landlord wished to sell them.”

While local residents claim 14 apartments are subject to these notices, Mr Mehl said that number is closer to eight.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

European Economic and Political Crisis

April 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Following the Brexit Referendum and the commencement of the Article 50 process of Britain leaving the EU, Europe now faces a presidential election followed by a General Election a year later.

FRANCE -THE CHOICE by Michael Roberts

It’s only a week to go before the first round of the French presidential election and it seems that the race is wide open.  Only two candidates can take part in the second round in May.  But who will those two be?  Extreme right-wing Front National candidate Marine Le Pen has been the front runner in the polls over the last year, but her support has been slipping.  Ex-socialist minister and centrist darling of the bourgeois media, Emmanuel Macron is neck and neck with Le Pen, both at around 22-23%.  The official conservative (Republican) candidate Francois Fillon should be ahead, but he has been damaged by the expenses scandal of his wife and children getting huge government-funded salaries for parliamentary work which they did not do.  Even so, Fillon is getting about 18-19% share of those saying they will vote.  The big surprise in the last few weeks had been the rise of Leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, whose polling has leapt from 10-11% to around 19% now.  In so doing, the official Socialist party candidate, Benoit Hamon, has seen his vote slump to 6-7%.

It is still most likely that it will be Le Pen and Macron in the second round, with Macron more than likely to win the presidency by some distance over Le Pen.  But all combinations are possible, with the worst for French capital being a battle between leftist Eurosceptic, anti-NATO Melenchon and racist Eurosceptic Le Pen.

Back in February I analysed the state of the French economy, the second-largest in mainland Europe and one of top ten capitalist economies globally.  The profitability of French capital is at a post-war low (profitability is still down a staggering 22% since the peak just before the global financial crash in 2007), real GDP growth is only just over 1% a year, well below that of Germany.  The unemployment rate remains stuck close to 10% compared to just 3.9% in Germany.  Youth unemployment is 24%. Business investment has stagnated in the ‘recovery’ since 2009.

Because of the actions of the French labour movement, inequalities of income and wealth have not risen as much as in other G7 countries like the US and the UK in the last 30 years.

Neoliberal policies have been less effective in getting profitability up and workers down under the thumb of capital.  French capital needs a president that can and will do this now.  Can it find one?

If we look at the programs of each candidate, we can see it is Francois Fillon who offers the best programme for the interests of French capital.  Fillon aims to end the key gain of the French labour movement, the official 35-week, often firmly enforced.  Under Fillon, workers would have to put in 39 hours before overtime or time-off in lieu is paid.  Fillon would slash the public sector workforce by 500,000 (or 10%), while increasing the working week for those who keep their jobs.  The retirement age would be raised to 65 from 62 now and everybody would have to work to that age or face pension loss.  Unemployment benefits would be cut.

Severe fiscal austerity would be imposed with a cut in public sector spending from the (astronomically high for capitalism) 57% of GDP to 50%, with a ‘balanced budget’. The cuts would be necessary because Fillon wants to cut corporate tax rates to 25% and other ‘burdens’ on the business sector, while raising VAT for purchases by French households by 2% pts.  He would scrap the current wealth tax on the rich. One area of extra spending would be more police and more prisons, while reducing gay rights.

This is an outright neo-liberal program that no French president has been able to impose successfully in the last 30 years.  But French capital demands it.  Unfortunately, for big business, Fillon is unlikely to make the presidency.

But what of Macron, the ex-banker and socialist minister, the man most likely to get into the Elysee Palace (the French White House)?  Macron’s program is a mix that attempts to appeal to labour and capital, as though they could be reconciled.  He wants to merge public and private pension and benefit schemes.  He claims that he will get the unemployment rate down to 7% through an investment plan.  And yet he plans to cut public sector spending and run a tight budget.

Like Fillon, he would cut corporate tax for businesses to 25% of declared profits.  He keeps the 35-hour week, but companies would be allowed to ‘negotiate’ a longer week.  Low-wage earners would be exempted from certain social welfare levies, a measure that would put an extra month’s wage per year in the employee’s pocket (but no clarity on how this would be paid for, except through ‘higher growth’).  He too would boost police and prisons but also provide a ‘payment for culture’ to students and reduce school class sizes.  He would cut the number of MPs and reduce time for re-election of officials, while banning Fillon-type payments to family members. This programme is thus a mix of help to business and wishful thinking for labour.  But it seems to appeal to just enough voters over the neoliberal alternative of Fillon.

Both Fillon and Macron are pro-EU and pro-euro.  This is the one big policy difference with Le Pen and Melenchon.  Le Pen’s program is a mixture of racist, anti-immigrant, anti-EU policies alongside pro-labour measures for the public sector and wages.  Le Pen would ‘re-negotiate’ the EU treaty with the rest of the EU and if that failed, call a referendum on leaving the EU within six months.  If French voters decided to stay in the EU, she would resign the presidency.  If they voted to leave, France would end the euro as its currency and re-introduce the franc.  Such a policy would be shattering for the French economy and probably sound the death-knell of the EU and the euro as we know it.

Le Pen would get on with ending immigration, strip many French muslims of citizenship, revoke international trade treaties and NATO operations and confine free education to French citizens only.  Companies employing foreigners would pay an extra 10% tax and foreign imports would be subject to a 3% tax.  And, of course, the police forces would be expanded.

Like the Brexiters in the UK referendum, she claims that she can cut taxes on average households and raise welfare benefits by saving money on EU membership and regulations (that has turned out to be a myth in the UK, where austerity has increased).  The number of MPS would be halved.

But Le Pen also aims to help (small) business with lower taxes.  And instead of raising the retirement age, as Fillon proposes, she would cut it to 60 years, increase benefits to the old and to children, while keeping the working week at 35 hours and overtime tax-free!

Le Pen’s economic policy is thus anathema to French capital and attractive to French labour, but combined with racist and nationalist measures.  But, of course, there is no real attack on the hegemony of French big business.  So this policy of raising wages and benefits while leaving the euro and introducing protectionism, in an economic world of low growth and a possible new economic slump, is utopian. Neither the needs of labour nor capital will be met.

When we turn to Melenchon, we see a similar utopianism, if from the perspective of defending the interests of labour over capital.  His economic program is similar to that of Corbyn’s Labour in the UK, if going further.  He proposes a 100-billion-euro economic stimulus plan funded by government borrowing and some nationalisation in sectors such as the motorway network.  He says he would raise public spending by 275 billion euros to fund the plan, to raise minimum and public sector wages, create jobs to reduce the unemployment rate to 6% and also, like Le Pen, cut the retirement age to 60.

This extra spending would, Keynesian-like, fund itself from higher economic growth and employment.  But with big business needing profits to invest, calling for more taxes on business (as well as the rich), may deliver the opposite of faster growth.  At the same time, he too would cut corporate tax rates to 25%!

Melenchon would also renegotiate the EU treaties, ignore the EU fiscal austerity pact, call for a devaluation of the euro, take national control of the Banque de France from the ECB and leave NATO and the IMF.  And following Le Pen, if these measures are blocked, he would have a referendum on EU membership.

Melenchon’s program is similar to that of socialist Francois Mitterand (although somewhat less radical than Mitterand’s) when the latter won the presidency in 1981.  He too wanted to take France on an independent line from the rest of Europe in expanding the economy through public spending, nationalisation and more taxes on business and the rich.  That program fell down in face of the deep global slump in 1980-2, when financial investors fled France and the franc.  The choice then was for Mitterand to go the whole hog and take control from French capital or capitulate to neoliberal policies.  He chose the latter with his so-called “tournant de la rigueur” (austerity turn) in 1983.  That choice would soon face Melenchon, in the unlikely event that he won the presidency.

Apart from the economic utopianism of Le Pen and Melenchon under capitalism, they both face an immediate political problem.  In June, the French vote for a new National Assembly, which, at least right now, would probably elect a majority of conservative pro-capital, pro-EU MPs who would be backed by a media campaign from big business, the EU Commission and other EU governments aiming to shackle the new president.  The battle would be on from day one, while the euro and French financial assets reel from the shock.

But it probably won’t happen.

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