Housing remains a hot-button topic ahead of Ireland's General Election 2020

The fight for financial survival amongst ordinary workers and people who were forced to emigrate due to what we now know was a misled and politically foolish attempt to save the banking system rather than the people of the country is at the core of the surge away from the two main political parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael this election.

Read More: New Irish lender promises to end US vulture funds mortgages in Ireland

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, for his part, never took his share of responsibility in the crucifixion of Irish people to an economic cross and to this day, still doesn’t accept the same. Leo Varadkar continues to defend the massive profit-taking by the banks and vulture funds.

Foreclosures in the USA are a daily event; however, people can start again far more easily than people trapped in a similar situation in Ireland. The existing legislation is designed to create victims without a voice. What is meant by that is: unless a debtor has enough money to pay for a lawyer to defend proceedings against him or her by the banks, then you are essentially on your own in the struggle. 

Currently, 128,000 homeowners are under continuing threat, many of them find themselves being consistently dragged through a terrifying ordeal on a regular basis. Many people now see John McGuinness as being the natural leader of Fianna Fáil, if not the country, as they view Micheál Martin’s policies as being the same as Leo Varadkar’s which is wedded to the past.

Thousands of Irish people have lost their homes to banks which were bailed out by the Irish taxpayer and this situation has continued unceasingly to this day and is adding to the numbers of homeless families and individuals living on our streets throughout the cities and rural towns.

One of the very few Irish parliamentarians to stand up and fight for the rights of mortgage holders was John McGuinness (TD for Kilkenny/Carlow), who tried introducing the “Affordable Housing & Fair Mortgage Bill 2018" into the Dáil. Micheál Martin and the Fianna Fáil party initially gave their backing to the Bill, however, on presentation of the Bill, Micheál Martin refused to back it as he saw that enacting the legislation would likely have a detrimental effect on the bank’s and Vulture Fund’s bottom line. 

John McGuinness has indicated that he will treat Martin’s refusal to support the Bill as a red line issue and will consider running against him in any leadership battle, should the Bill be unsupported once again.

You can watch John McGuinness introduce the Affordable Housing & Fair Mortgage Bill 2018 here:

Read More: Foreclosure by tax-avoiding US vulture funds must be stopped, says top Irish official

Shamefully, the sale of mortgages to Vulture Funds still continues to this day. AIB are planning to sell off another €2 billion of mortgage debt to an LCM, a private equity fund, with the blessing of the current government, and Fianna Fáil, but yet this devious sell-off is being kept a closely guarded secret at least until the general election next Saturday is over, according to Brian Reilly of Homeoptions. Thousands of families are also going to find themselves at the mercy of this Vulture Fund, regardless of the state of their mortgage and whether they are in mortgage distress or not.

Which now brings us to the present situation. 

A vidcast was recorded in Dublin on February 4, bringing together some of the best minds, politically, economically and, of course, socially minded. The vidcast was designed to be an alternative to the “leaders debate” that pitches the leaders of the three main political parties trying to win over the hearts and minds of the electorate. Some of the people who took part in the podcast expressed their views of what an alternative government might be made up of what we now assume will be Sinn Féin with either Fianna Fáil or some formation with left-leaning individuals and parties as well as independents. 

The guests on the vidcast also spelt out where they saw the real issues that need to be addressed and fixed, every bit as much as the health, homelessness and housing crisis that is creating a dark shadow on the country as we speak. The failure by the current government to address anything that didn’t have a business and or banking protectionism built-in to it was essentially ignored, thus creating a crisis unseen and unheard of in many of our lifetimes.

Fine Gael, supported throughout by Fianna Fáil, have left a very expensive and gaping hole in the social fabric and structure by failing to address the issues that are going to cause the next Irish government some very serious fiscal headaches down the line in trying to play catch up.

Read More: Vulture funds and a coming "tsunami" of Irish evictions

Paddy Kelly, the well-known and affable property developer, summed it up while being interviewed during the debate when he set out his ten-point vision plan for rebuilding Ireland. His view is that it only takes ten well thought out points by the very people who have the experience and know-how to tackle the urgent need to build the thousands of new homes that are needed to house an ever-increasing population. Paddy lays out his ten-point plan in the vidcast and it’s definitely worth a watch for anyone interested in the housing crisis.

The debate was hosted by renowned Northern Irish broadcaster Donagh McKeown and co-hosted by broadcast journalist Marian Shanley. 

Perhaps the final word should go to Donagh McKeown when he writes the following: “Whether you take the word of the numerous surveys and opinion polls by “official” groups, or take your own straw poll with folks on the street, you’ll soon see that both will indicate deep concerns, firstly about health and the health service in Ireland. 

"Over 50% in collective polling say that’s their number one concern, with housing coming second. Within that mix comes the plight of the homeless. Calls for increased affordable housing are being heard at every doorstep, from the inner cities to our most rural areas. Deep in the Irish psyche, there’s the desire to own one’s own home. 

"Many people are also deeply concerned about the growing numbers of homeless people who now roam our streets. Once again, perhaps subconsciously, there’s a collective memory of famine and eviction that’s within, and the frustration of lack of meaningful reform or action from politicians to change the system is rising. Combine this with the continuously circling wake of vulture funds preying on the threatened homeowners. 

"There’s a growing belief in the electorate that they have the power in this and future elections to bring about change.  In this election, there’s a strong wave for social change, true re-engagement with the disenfranchised. 

"There’s a strong move of support from the centrist parties like Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, with an almost tsunami level of support moving to more socially democratic leaning parties, with Sinn Féin rising, in the polls at least, leading that movement for change."

You can watch The Real Debate on Facebook here:

The Real Debate 2020 Video Podcast

#therealdebate Recorded live on 3rd February 2020 in the North Star Hotel a group of activists and politicians raise important issues beyond the Natioal Broadcaster debate on RTÉ. Join in the Watch Party and have your say...

Publiée par The Real Debate sur Mardi 4 février 2020