re-appointment of Conor Skehan [L] to head the Housing Agency for an extra year on top of his 5 year stint which just expired. Why being re-appointed in what is clearly an interim measure? Because HR at the Ministry of Quangology couldn't arrange a timely replacement process. Why is it news-worthy? Because Mr Skehan had unhelpfully suggested that some people were 'gaming the system' to get a house for their family. Even if it is true, it is not helpful for the chair of the Housing Agency to articulate the idea.
Is it true? In what sense is it true? Ciara Kelly another Newstalk host, who was a GP for 20 years, said that many of her patients had asked for an Asthma Cert or a Clinical Depression Cert to present to their local housing authority. That is gaming the system. But then again, so is claiming to be living with your Ex and the three kids when you aren't. The first <coff coff wheeze wheeze> image should trigger your empathy gland; the second not-so-much? Indeed "claiming to be living with your Ex and the three kids when you aren't" quite possibly conjures up a shaven head, facial metal-work, drink, beatings and fags at the bookies. More importantly this Gamer of the System <basstid!> becomes enormous in the foreground of the mind eclipsing the single mum with two small boys living in a hotel bedroom without cooking or laundry facilities.
interviewed Beth Watts, a housing policist [it's a word now] from Heriot-Watt U in Scotland. Her take on the Skehan quote was that in the UK, the debate had moved on from that sort of victim-shaming. [prev: victim blaming on Newstalk] Across the water, all the stake-holders acknowledge that there is a crisis. They don't all agree about the solution, but they aren't in denial about the existence of a housing problem. A year ago, I set out my own eviction and homelessness credentials. People like Dr Watts gather data, analyse it and put it in geographical, historical and sociological context. They hope that their position papers will inform politicians and government agencies to do something about the problem. In Ireland, this involves a febrile flutter of activity when a chap dies in the street 100m from the national parliament, which then sinks back exhausted when the News cameras focus elsewhere. Because of our Christian cultural bedrock, Matthew 26:11 "For ye have the poor always with you" is floating on the edge on any debate about deprivation; whether it be lack of fuel, lack of food, or lack of roof. Because there have always been people who couldn't settle happily in normal accommodation (because of drugs, derangement or depression?) we collectively tolerate 10,000
Footnotes: NewstalkFM have decided to give 2 hours of Saturday airtime back to George Hook, who was suspended last year for putting foot-in-mouth again wrt sexual assault. If you want to be there for the next gaffe as it lollops out of his gob, you'll have to tune in. Then again, maybe it is being broadcast with a 10 minute lag with the station's lawyer ready to edit anything which is more deeply inappropriate than usual. With 4.7 million people in this our Republic, is it so hard to find an aspiring radio presenter? . . . younger? . . . with more X chromosomes? . . . and a mortgage still to pay off? Finding a really talented unemployed presenter living in a hotel room or sleeping on a friend's couch with a child at foot: that would be a coup.