Denis O’ Brien took some time off from launching legal actions to unwind last weekend. O’ Brien took part with his son Jake in a prestigious ‘Father and Son’ golf tournament in Waterville, Co. Kerry alongside fellow billionaires Dermot Desmond and JP McManus.
After the golf, they headed off to a lavish ‘Party of the Century’ for retired jockey AP McCoy at McManus’s own five-star €30 million Adare Manor in Limerick. Robbie Williams was hired to entertain up to 2,000 wealthy individuals from the Irish ruling class- all under tight security and a strict media blackout.
In the mood to celebrate the huge recent growth of their wealth and with little thought for over a million people now living in deprivation, the elite guests were treated to a three-course dinner of prime rib of Golden Vale beef, wild Kerry salmon and all the vintage Dom Perignon they could drink.
The backdrop to all this celebration of privilege, greed and power was a giant, specially constructed multi-storey marquee, believed to be the biggest marquee ever erected in Europe. Apart from Denis O’ Brien, Desmond and the host McManus, specially invited guests included leading politicians like Enda Kenny and Michael Noonan, former Taoiseach Bertie Aherne and even British royal Princess Anne.
Other government ministers invited included Defence minister Simon Coveney, Frances Fitzgerald and Health minister Leo Varadkar, whose appetite to party was far from dampened by news from the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation that July saw the highest levels of overcrowding ever recorded in Irish public hospitals with 6,700 patients on trolleys for the month.
At the same time another family were being evicted from their home, thrown onto the streets and reduced to sleeping in a local park. Dublin homeless charity Inner City Helping Homeless were performing their nightly outreach services when they were informed of an entire family bedding down for the night in Mountjoy Square Park in Dublin’s North inner city.
The family, a couple in their 30s with three young children under the age of six, were made homeless after they were evicted from their home in Fatima. They found themselves in the park having been denied access to emergency accommodation by the Central Placement Service in Dublin.
The homeless crisis is getting worse all the time. Last month, a further 77 families, including 155 children from Dublin became homeless, 70 of whom were never homeless before. And for the first seven months of the year, 466 families and over a thousand children ended up homeless and living in emergency B&Bs and hotel rooms across the city, almost as many as for the whole of 2014. Outside Dublin, the number of homeless children has seen a 130% increase in the last six months.
Another world away, the gluttony under the marquee finally ended at Adare Manor around 6 am the following morning. Close friends of McManus were invited to bed down in his new €50 million luxury mansion at Kilmallock to enjoy his nine bedroom suites, artificial lake, 18 metre swimming pool and 200 seater cinema.
Whether those special friends included O’ Brien, Enda or Bertie is anybody’s guess. Meanwhile the family in the park were enjoying the ‘luxury’ of being given accommodation for the night by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive while charities and campaigners worked on trying to find a place for them in emergency accommodation.
Ministers have slashed the rent supplement, refused to build adequate social housing while inflating another private property bubble, and have given the green light for their landlord friends to hike rents or refuse to accept those on rent allowance. We desperately need social housing and rent caps.
However, the historic fightback against water charges shows we can fight for the kind of society that brings an end to a political establishment that swills champagne with the super-rich while poor children sleep rough on the streets of this country.
It is vital we build a radical left in Ireland that is willing to challenge the structures of Irish Capitalism and put people before the profiteers.
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