World News

Torch is not being passed between generations on housing

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Micheál Martin is summoning our inner John F Kennedy.

n his inaugural address 61 years ago, the late Irish-American US president called on citizens to see the importance of public service and challenged them to contribute to the public good.

Echoing those sentiments, the Taoiseach wants Irish citizens, notably those who already own homes, to see the bigger picture and stop objecting to new housing. The Fianna Fáil leader wants homeowners to think about those not on the ladder before they decide to oppose new buildings in their community.

Mr Martin has been critical of Sinn Féin for opposing developments when the country is engulfed in a housing crisis. However, members of his own party have not been slow to support opposition to developments in their constituencies. The Taoiseach more or less acknowledges this point when he calls on party members to also hold back.

The departing Taoiseach’s appeal to Nimby objectors is unlikely to yield much results. The Not In My Back Yard brigade will often have a politician leading the charge, citing a unique reason why such and such a development is not suitable for a particular location, even if they do support the building of housing. Even the most ardent of campaigning politicians find a distinct reason to challenge a development once there are enough votes on the line from local residents.

The Taoiseach appears to be highlighting a generational divide between the haves and have nots, pointing out that many of those objecting to new developments already own homes, and says people under 40 were the worst affected by the housing crisis. The older generation is basically hampering the younger generation from getting on in life seems to be his message.

Kennedy also spoke in that Washington address of January 20, 1961 of spreading the word “that the torch has been passed to a new generation”. Unfortunately, the older generation is holding the power around the building of new houses and seems to have no intention of handing it over. Sometimes the sole interest is in passing on the property and protecting the value of the inheritance.

The Taoiseach’s comments will again fuel the debate about planning permission objections, but there is also a question mark around what our country is doing to help itself. Property rights are enshrined in the Constitution, so any attempt to bypass the views of local residents towards a development immediately runs the risk of ending up in the courts. Hence, there are developments that take many years to obtain permission before a shovel is stuck in the ground.

In recent years, there has been much talk about a referendum on a right to housing. It is unclear what value there would be in such a guarantee if the houses cannot be built in the first place. Not-ably, nobody is seriously proposing a significant constitutional change, watering down the rights of homeowners to object to housing. The chances of passing that would be negligible.

Most Related Links :
usnewsmail Governmental News Finance News

Source link

Back to top button