A History Of Public Housing


Eight families who were tenants at 11 Fenian Street in Dublin live in tents next to the building, two weeks after the building’s ceiling collapsed in 1971

Middle East-based former RTÉ journalist Mark Coughlan has created a tweet thread about the history of public housing in Ireland…

There you go now.

Via Mark Coughlan

Pic: RTE Archives

34 thoughts on “A History Of Public Housing

  1. Starina

    I wonder if back in the 60s and 70s people called those in need of social housing spongers or not. I’m guessing they did.

    Also: classic Irish approach to Ballymun. Slap it together, spend tons fixing it 15 years later, spend even more rebuilding it even later. A bit like Celtic Tiger builds with corners cut in fire safety and other building regs.

    1. Aeneas

      I was around. They weren’t called spongers. Dubliners could see the tenements in the likes of Gardiner Street and were happy to see people get better accommodation.

      1. Aeneas

        I was around. They weren’t called spongers. Dubliners could see the tenements in the likes of Gardiner Street and were happy to see people get better accommodation.

        1. millie st murderlark

          I suppose poverty was more commonplace in Ireland at the time, which undoubtedly has something to do with it. We’re a much more affluent nation now, and that has changed society in many different ways. It makes me sad to think that a lack of empathy with the suffering of those who do know poverty is one of less than ideal the results of that. There will always be poverty but what we have right now is madness. Utter madness.

          1. Janet, I ate my avatar

            nothing like new money to look down on a raw personal history,
            people who’s grandparents had earth floors looking down their noses,
            too close to home

          2. Jésus María Josépha

            “It makes me sad to think that a lack of empathy with the suffering of those who do know poverty is one of less than ideal the results of that. ”

            You said it. And some of the worst offenders I know are parents and grandparents –empty nesters–sitting on millions of equity in SoCo Dublin and the City itself and letting young adults and even their own kids go through this kind of hell. Sickening. It’s no country for young people.

  2. rotide

    THat was a really good read. Unfortuntately it reinforces the fact that what is needed is a well thought out long term solution that the current government are unlikely to be able to provide and which will not be anywhere near quick enough to satisfy the baying mob (or the thousands stuck in the homeless trap at the moment)

    1. Ron

      he genuinely doesn’t understand what TL:DR is. he just saw it posted on lots of comments sections and copied. like his opinions.

    2. Cian

      Sorry about the quick post last night. It seems to have caused confusion.

      A brief summary of these 68 tweets for those of you that didn’t read it is that Ireland has always struggled with social housing. However, I would recommend reading it – it is very good.

      There has been a constant theme of action-unintended consequence-failure. Hopefully each time we have learnt from the failings of the past. But we are now in a situation where the combined failings are preventing further action.

      As an example, one of the lessons learnt is that large estates of 100% social housing is bad. Mixed use is better. NAMA had a slew of properties (including entire blocks of apartments) available and offered these to the Councils. The councils – who were in dire need of housing – were able to take 5 or 6 from a block – but couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t take the lot. Is this a prudent approach to avoiding the mistakes of the past? or a cynical ploy to feed the vultures?

  3. Jésus María Josépha

    Thanks for publishing.

    Depressing that there is no clear way out of this situation. It must be appalling to find yourself there. I can’t imagine keeping it together.

  4. Elron

    Solid effort by all involved. Moving from tenements and hard stands to houses, apartments and halting sites. We are very privileged to live in such a modern first world economy and our parents and theirs deserve a lot of credit for investing in our futures while suffering so much. Now we need to go the last mile to ensure everyone can afford a roof over their heads.

  5. JohnnyBGoode

    Fascinating stuff – especially the Simon Community and the Dilapidated Housing 1964 video – watching it, you can see the lower-income so-called working-class of the 1960’s were impressive compared to the welfare-junkie class we have today. Talk about disastrous social policy the Fitzgerald govt pursued by incentivising working people to leave poorer socio-economic parts of Dublin, Cork and Limerick, which resulted in a concentrating of the social problems – pride goes a long way to making community. I doubt this comment will make it through, but thanks mods…Broadsheet doesn’t necessarily suggest Broadmind!

  6. Kolmo

    Short-term profit taking is the cause of all this..backward, peasent-minded illiterates running the show. Is it time to call a halt to all elections, convene a national emergency government for 4 years, cut through the quagmire of overly-powerful anti-social vested interests, radical change needs radical solutions, also my head is perfectly round and a profile should fit nicely into the new euro coins that I’ll have minted…who’s with me?
    Good thread highlighting the absolute lack of imagination though.

  7. Hicksonian

    That was like stepping out of a shower of dribbly, brown hued, poorly scented housing lies into a beacon of light filled factoids. Thanks for the direct sunlight on this piss poor shadowland of housing fudges. Do we still have over 200k empty housing units knocking about?

  8. dav

    Current lot of blushirts believe that the “market” will sort things out, they are nothing but lapdogs to the banks and vulture funds..

    1. Owen C

      Dav, after a very long thread highlighting the numerous times the state didn’t actually sort things out, its not exactly the strongest argument to complain about the “market” being the problem. I think all this suggests is that housing is difficult to get right, and requires imagination, money and planning, regardless of who is actually doing it.

  9. Rob

    This should be a module taught in secondary school. I’m in my early 30’s and never really had too much insight as to how bad this country was run.

  10. H

    Excellent thread, it highlights the problems of shortsighted policies and the difficulties of implementing long term solutions. I’m not sure how it works in Ireland but in the UK a lot of problems are compounded because no government is prepared to think past the next election any more so all policies are designed to make them look good in the run up to the next election and do not provide for anything that will happen after it.

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