Originally titled ‘The Destruction of Right Wing Housing Policy’ this post shows you the right wing face of Fine Gael and the growing threat to equality that their neoliberal politics brings to Ireland.
This week Leo Vradkar took his seat at the top of the table in the Dáil. He is now the leader of the Fine Gael Party and the leader of the country. The media have concentrated on his age, being the youngest ever Taoiseach, his sexuality, being the only ever gay Taoiseach and being half Indian. Nothing about his right-wing philosophy that will affect the lives of the poorest in Ireland. He expressed his right wing views when he was canvassing for the position, as he spoke about working for ‘those who get up early in the morning’ and his attempt to divide the people of Ireland, as he spoke of ‘two groups of people in society, one who wants everything but does not want to pay for anything and one who pays for everything’.
Mr. Vradkar was very lucky to be educated at some of the best education institutions in Ireland. He grew up in a home where everything he needed to get him to where he is today was available to him. Food, shelter, love, education and encouragement were provided. He did not have to struggle to avail of any of these things in his life, and is unaware of what it is like to struggle and sees those that do, as scroungers and skivers. Just like the philosophy of Ian Duncan Smith of the Tories across the water in the UK.
The housing and health crises show no sign of easing, in spite of ‘the recovery’. We are constantly told the economy is in recovery and we need to keep it going and only Fine Gael can do that. Families with young children continue to reside in hotels and ‘housing hubs, and the Minister in charge has run away to a new department. He realised, he could not keep his promise of housing homeless families residing in hotels by the end of July. Sick people continue to languish on hospital trolleys, while the staff struggle to do their job with a scarcity of staff and beds. People continue to use food banks, and continue to work zero hour contracts for large companies who are making huge profits.
Across the water in the UK we have just seen the greatest tragedy involving the deaths of poor people. People who are not in a position to avail of housing through the market are pushed into high-rise flats with no safety for them, or their children. A cladding was used in these flats that was banned in the US because of safety issues. I said in a previous blog, class is still alive and kicking and this is another story of class.
Profit is the main objective for the people who used this cladding in the refurbishing of these flats. The welfare of the people residing in them was less important. This is the world we live in, profit over people. High rise flats are built by the state to house as many people as they can in order to reduce costs. Certain lives matter less than others.
We cannot thrive if we do not have a secure home base. Children need the security of a warm home and sufficient food in order to thrive both, physically and cognitively. If children are not given the opportunity to thrive cognitively and go on to be creative in society, the chances are they will grow up angry and destructive and are then referred to as ‘scum bags’. If we continue to exclude these young children from the social necessity of a secure home, we are depriving them of their ability to grow and be the best they can be. We are forcing them to live with the stigma of homelessness, and when they don’t fit the picture of the ‘ideal’ citizen they will judged harshly and their parents will be blamed.
The political right-wing rhetoric of Leo Vradkar here in Ireland, and Ian Duncan Smith, in the UK creates a divided society and sets one class of people against another. This lets them off the hook, as the anger is vented towards those who are vulnerable and marginalised, because of the unequal organisation of society. It is about time this rhetoric was challenged, it damages our society and is coming from people who are totally unaware of what it is like to struggle and to have no voice.
The voice of right wing politicians such as Leo Vradkar and Ian Duncan Smith drowns out the voice of families living in hotels and dying in high-rise flats. Their rhetoric makes invisible, the real causes of the problems these families are faced with- neoliberal polices of privatisation of services and commodification of housing.