Let municipalities hire builders directly to build much-needed houses

We read that the government’s housing targets were missed (‘Dire Warning over Housing Plan as Key Targets Missed’, Irish Independent, 23 September).

These goals will continue to be missed until the government returns to the model of providing social and affordable housing that existed from the state’s inception until around 1980. This provided for the Borough Councils to build homes through direct labor employed directly by the Councils and Urban Authorities. In 1975 I held the position of CEO of GWI, which together with Capincur Joinery, a McInerney company in Tullamore, had over 90 percent of the market.

At that time, about 25,000 houses per year were needed. Nearly 50 were built by the local authorities using their own direct labour, supervised by professionals also employed directly by the local authorities. Cork County Council’s announcement of delivery of 560 new homes was a step in the right direction.

They will be “self-built or through turnkey acquisitions from developers”. I think the use of developers is wrong as all the work should be done by Cork Council’s own direct staff.

We are repeatedly told that there are two problems with building: the huge increase in the cost of materials and the lack of manpower.

Developers often use subcontractors.

As for the materials, the local authorities could have bought them together – for example, they could import wood directly from Norway or Sweden.

It is not uncommon for local authorities to employ workers.

I was employed by Dublin County Council in 1952, which was before Roadstone was developed in 1970, and Dublin County Council employed 700 workers excavating material and repairing the roads.

Finally, in 1922, the new state jumped straight into the housing market with the introduction of the excitingly named The Million Pound Scheme.

This allowed local authorities to build 2,000 homes in just two years, most of which were sold to middle-income buyers.

This was all possible even at the same time that the same government passed the Old Age Pensions Act 1924.

This reduced the pension from five shillings a week to four shillings. When grilled by members of his own party, Earnest Blythe declared that the shilling saved was necessary to keep the new state from “going under”.

Hugh Duffy

Cleggan Co, Galway

Brave Irish fighters in Ukraine deserve our gratitude

It was very moving to hear the beautiful tributes paid to a young Irishman aged 23 and a true European hero and freedom fighter from Dunboyne, Rory Mason, who lost his life on 28th September while traveling 3,500km from home for served a noble cause.

Rory is following in the footsteps of another heroic young East Meathman – the poet, labourer, councilman and trade unionist from Slane (43 km north of Rory), Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge of the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who lost his life at the age of 29 He was killed in action at Boezinge near Ieper-Ypres in Flanders on July 31, 1917 while resisting another brutal invader – 105 years and two months before Rory.

It is also noteworthy that another East Meathman, Brian Maher, a married father of two from Ratoath (10km north of Rory) and a 15-year Irish Army veteran, was wounded in the same region of Ukraine and also committed suicide opposed what Francis Ledwidge did, rightly called “an enemy of our civilization”.

All these men and their principles and courage are a credit and an inspiration – to all of Ireland as well as to Meath and their families will have our deepest sympathy and gratitude from all of us, in Ukraine or Ireland, as well as our admiration.

Tom Carew

Ranelagh, Dublin 6

I agree Ministers – but I doubt we are on the same side

Last week Secretary Heather Humphreys said she did not want the North to be guided by sectarian minds. I agree with her but I doubt we would be on the same page.

This week Edwin Poots stated that the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) is in the funeral process unless the Northern Ireland Protocol is resolved under union (DUP) guidelines. Mr Poots agrees with his party, which initially voted against the GFA. Ironically, arch-Brexiter Steve Baker apologized to Ireland and the EU for their tactics. His group, the ERG, blocked Theresa May’s reasonable deal but supported Boris and agreed to a deal, knowing it would later be reversed. In 1921, Collins and the Pro-Treaty group agreed on a split with the intention of rescinding that deal. The threat of a British total war killed that idea. So on the one hand, it’s okay for the perfidious Albion to back out of a signed deal, but not Paddy?

Minister Humphreys is right about the number of sectarian staff, but he thinks from a union perspective. I await a response from other ministers in Dublin setting out their views on behalf of the other half of the Northern equation, Republicans. God knows, with the DUP, Conservatives and Labor in the union corner, Republican nationalists need a little love too.

John Cuff

Dunboyne, Meath

As a Tory voter, I have no faith in Liz Truss

Tom McElligott’s letter made interesting reading (‘Liz Truss’ current woes? Why, they’re an open book’, Letters, October 6). Britain is now ‘led’ in name only by a Prime Minister who is leading her party, lemming-style, over the cliff into the abyss. If the Conservative Party is routed in the next election, it will open the doors to a second Scottish independence referendum and a referendum on Irish reunification. As a typical Tory voter, I have no faith in Liz Truss, a former Liberal Democrat Party member, former Republican and ex-Remnant. Interesting times are ahead.

Dominic Shelmerdine

London, United Kingdom

A feeling that you would have to counter with a heart of stone

I was delighted to be back in beautiful Galway for a few days holiday with my amazing friend Padraic O’Conaire after the Covid years. He told me he had no problems with the devil covid at all. However, he said he was a bit lonely and so happy to see those around him enjoying the delights of his beautiful city again.

Brian McDevitt

Glenties, Co Donegal

Move, darling – I’ll join you in the shower

In addition to Minister Eamon Ryan’s proposal to suggest shorter showers, one could suggest that couples could shower together. Maybe listen trilling to Doris Day Move over darling?

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Rising electricity prices have a negative impact

Our main stream seller recently increased prices by a large percentage. They promise to support vulnerable, personal customers with payment plans. This will also affect small and medium-sized businesses and shops, which in turn may increase prices or reduce opening hours. I’m not sure if we’re still getting gas from our offshore gas fields or if the gas under the seabed is running out.

A former CEO of a UK electricity company said large increases in electricity prices in the UK could not be justified by the massive profits of their utility companies.

These companies hope that people will get used to it or put up with it.

They say it’s because of the war in Ukraine when Russia invaded in February 2022 and that the cost of oil and gas from Russia has gone up. It was not advisable for countries like Germany to become too dependent on Russia for supplies.

I’m not a fan of him, but even former US President Donald Trump warned against this addiction two years ago.

Our country used to be largely self-sufficient in power generation. We have some river dam hydroelectric power plants that are doing a great job of generating. We need something else.

Our government will make additional payments to those in need. Hopefully there will be a reduction in the future. If unjustified increases in the cost of living return in the coming months, strong collective protests may be required. Organized public protests in 2014 and 2015 prevented the introduction of water charges.

Rents were high in Ukraine long before the war. The enormous pressure on these tenants continues. I read about a couple in their 20’s who are emigrating to Canada for a better life hoping to buy a house without financial hardship.

Mary Sullivan

College Road, Cork

https://www.independent.ie/opinion/letters/let-local-councils-employ-construction-workers-directly-to-build-badly-needed-homes-42049560.html Let municipalities hire builders directly to build much-needed houses

Fry Electronics Team

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