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First Base Project or Cheap Publicity Stunt?
Thursday September 25, 2014 22:28 by An Spréach
The idea that we can tackle Ireland’s increasing homeless crisis by packing people into tightly fitted shipping containers is unfathomable, ill-conceived and an insult to injury to the countless number of homeless people in need of decent, adequate housing.
Although we would like to think we all have moved away from the days of the slum; spare a thought though for the beleaguered people of Moyross in Limerick and the other copious amount of disadvantaged and neglected communities around the country. Some spark in all his infinite wisdom has had the bright idea to resurrect a dark period in history characterised by substandard housing and squalor, and seeing fit to house people once again within these sordid conditions.
The notion of housing some of the most marginalised people in society into tightly packed shipping containers, no matter how pretty and fanciful on the inside these shipping containers may be, should never have been giving the light of day. This poor planning, if it can even be called that, illustrates just how far behind we are at the moment at bringing the housing crisis to an end, once and for all.
Are we really willing to spend an exuberant amount of taxpayers’ money shoving people like herd animals into tiny containers? Why does the ordinary Joe Soap have to suffer, again? Let’s not forget who created this crisis in the first place, why not bundle these people in there instead, and give proper homes to those in need?
Who in their right mind thought it acceptable to house people in this way in the first place? What kind of way is this to treat an already segregated and neglected section of society? Is this all the citizens of this country are worth—shipping containers?
The brain behind the operation
Martin Critten, a native English man living in Ireland these past ten years, and no stranger to publicity stunts himself, relatively recently walked from Limerick to Dublin in the hope of raising awareness for his fledgling political party, the National Independent Party. He is also the founder of First Base, the franchise pushing ahead with the idea of slum housing for many of Ireland’s citizens, and who according to Critten, if the containers are good enough for the military, then they must be good enough for the homeless.
Crittens’ reaction to the charges of ‘slum tenancy’ levelled against him and his campaign would be laughable if not so serious. In a carefully crafted statement on his website, First Base, Critten proclaims, beggars can’t be choosers. Reading it one will also find a sophistry of highly misleading arguments covered in all the trademarks of a well-adapted wannabe career politician, playing to the emotions like any ambitious demagogue would. It seems to be nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt aimed at garnisheeing some credibility for Crittens political career; in one word—opportunism.
While pushing his idea around, Critten may have found an unlikely ally in the most unlikely of places; within the self-proclaimed harbourers of social justice, and majority seat holders in Dublin City Council, Sinn Fein. Together with Critten and the NIP, members of SF have begun leaning toward the idea of the production of slums in a move that will set them on par course, riding roughshod over the backs of the homeless population in Ireland, to essentially what they see as an easy, albeit, temporary fix to a colossal problem; akin to sticking a plaster over a giant gaping wound.
If Sinn Fein remains intransigent with this preposterous idea, further substantive reparations down the line for the already downtrodden and persecuted citizens, may be forthcoming.
The ‘prefabs’ are only meant to be temporary, however, this will come as no consolation to the scores of homeless families being forced to live in temporary accommodation in hotels, some of which have already spent over 8 years or more of their lives living there in cramped and substandard conditions.
Moving people to and fro from one temporary accommodation to another is counterintuitive . . . but there is another way—make social housing a top priority. Simply build more homes, take back the vacant ones, and open up and redecorate the ones that have been left lying idle.
Currently, there are around 76 empty homes for every 1 homeless person in Ireland.
The citizens of this country deserve nothing but the best, let’s not sell them short, let’s give them exactly what they deserve—decent, adequate housing!
- An Spréach Spokesperson,