Leo Varadkar is meant to be the ‘cool’ and ‘modern’ Taoiseach, the master of spin and PR. Fine Gael pride themselves on being the ‘liberal’ and ‘enlightened’ wing of the Irish establishment.
Now over housing and homelessness this liberal mask has slipped.
In a series of tweets and comments their old Blueshirt class prejudice and snobbery has been revealed.
Faced with relentless evidence of the growing crisis Varadkar claimed repeatedly that Ireland has ‘a low level of homelessness compared to our peer countries’.
This was followed by Eileen Gleeson, the Head of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, complaining about volunteers feeding the homeless and saying
‘When somebody becomes homeless it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes years of bad behaviour probably, or behaviour that isn’t the behaviour of you and me.’
And then Junior Minister, Damian English even went so far as to complain that talk about homelessness was damaging Ireland’s ‘international reputation’.
In a situation where the numbers in emergency accommodation have reached an all time high and where all the Government’s so-called ‘housing plans’ have failed to deliver any sort of a solution, the Government have decided to go on the attack by blaming the homeless themselves.
Their blame game is disgusting. They are like the rich in the 19th century who blamed poverty on the ‘idleness’ of the poor and brought in the cruel regime of the workhouses to deter the poor from their ‘bad behaviour’.
It is the mentality of blaming the victims and the poor that brought us TUAM and the Magdalene Laundries; the mentality of Margaret Thatcher and the Tories, who blamed the mass unemployment in Britain in the 1980s on the laziness of the unemployed.
The complete absurdity of these claims is shown by the simple fact that the figures keep rising. Are the Irish people suddenly having a fit of ‘chaotic behaviour’?
But these comments also have a purpose.
They are designed to divert from the Government’s repeated failures and to silence protest by shaming the homeless.
Particularly obnoxious is Minister English’s claim that focus on this issue is damaging Ireland’s reputation.
Note that in English’s thinking it is not actual homelessness that is the problem, just making a fuss about it.
In reality the housing crisis affects not only the hundreds on the streets and the 8000 plus in emergency accommodation but hundreds of thousands of others threatened by soaring rents, unscrupulous landlords and the robber bankers’ evictions.
And there is only one serious solution: an emergency programme to build affordable public housing.
And there is only one real answer to the vicious rhetoric of the Blueshirt snobs; that is people power.
We need to build now for a mass mobilisation over housing and homelessness in the New Year.
We beat them on water charges. Now we must beat them on housing.
And they hate women too
Not only do they look down on the homeless but many of these Blueshirts also despise women.
Barry Walsh, vice chair of Fine Gael’s Executive Council, has been forced to resign from his position following the exposure of a long series of abusive and misogynistic tweets.
Probably the most appalling of these was what he wrote about comedian and actor, Tare Flynn. “From what Tara Flynn says, she was pregnant and just couldn’t be bothered having a baby. So she had it killed. Why is she a feminist hero?”
But this was only one of many. In particular Walsh engaged in the relentless and repetitive use of the b-word to describe women.
Of course once this came to light Varadkar and his cronies rushed to say this was ‘unacceptable’ and to claim that Walsh was a ‘fringe figure’ in the party. But the truth is these attitudes are prevalent in the establishment and have long been all too ‘acceptable’ and accepted.
(pic: ‘Fringe member’ Barry Walsh with Enda Kenny.)
The homeless, the poor, the working class, women, immigrants – they despise us all and believe their own wealth, power and privilege derives from their innate personal superiority.
Socialist Worker says to them all ‘Your power is based on class privilege- nothing else. AND IT IS TIME FOR YOU ALL TO GO!’