Posted on 11th March 2023

The weather this week induces one phrase – cold comfort for everyone but specifically for the government because in my view they are deserving of criticism.  Let me start with drones.  Michael O’Leary was absolutely right to call out Transport Minister and Leader of the Greens, Eamon Ryan, on this issue.  What has he been doing ?

Distant view of Slane Castle

This problem was flagged to government in 2017.  Airports in the UK such as Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted all have anti-drone technology operated by airport police.  St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and thousands of visitors will be flying into the country.  Are they going to suffer disruption ? Junior Minister and Fianna Fail high flyer, Jack Chambers, has responsibility in this area.  Well, in a nutshell, show your mettle and deal with this as a matter of urgency that befits a problem that could lead to a catastrophe for passengers and crew.

I am warm and lucky enough to have a roof over my head.  Thinking about it focuses one’s attention on the position of those less fortunate –  those that are homeless or those that are now facing eviction.  Images of kids spending the night in Garda Stations comes to mind.  What astonishes me is how the government is handling this.  Surely every person sitting around the Cabinet table must be aware that housing is the central issue facing the nation.  If the government feels it has to lift the Eviction Ban now to try and stop the rush of private landlords leaving the market , why do they not immediately address the reasons for this exodus.  One of the chief causes is regulation and bureaucracy and a sense that the system discriminates against the landlord.  Finland is an interesting example.  They had a tightly controlled rental market but they lifted rent controls for new contracts in 1993 and then for all contracts in 1995.  The result was the number of rental properties available jumped by 45%.  The other obvious way of helping or attracting new landlords into the market is tax incentives, a radical approach is required.  One example being a reduction in Capital Gains Tax if the rental property is held for more than 10 years.  The government needs to state its intentions now.  T.D.’s are on their break.  Those on the government benches need to understand how serious this is as their constituents will not take kindly to kids being cast out in the streets.  In politics once you get a reputation for being uncaring it sticks.  Sinn Fein will use this as a battering ram to try and smash the cohesion of this government .  At the moment I detect some disquiet on the back benches of Fianna Fail and the usual suspects in the Greens getting jumpy.  Like the drones issue you just get the sense that the government doesn’t appreciate the urgency of it all.  This really is a crisis and with widespread economic ramifications.

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