Developers celebrate windfall as families queue for food
Developers celebrate windfall as families queue for food

Ireland’s multi-millionaire developers were this week toasting the Dublin government’s bailout of the Irish real estate market in the Spanish playground resort of Puerto Banus, according to newspaper reports.

As the champagne glasses were being chinked on yachts on the Costa del Sol, thousands protested in Dublin against the government’s plans to sink 54 billion Euro into ‘distressed’ property assets, currently held as collateral by Irish banks against the developers’ bad debts.

Although the assets have collapsed in value, Dublin’s infamously corrupt Fianna Fail-led government, which has a close relationship with the developers in question, last week determined to purchase the properties well above market value, while setting aside all interest due.

At the weekend, Sinn Fein Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain repeated his party’s demand for a referendum on the NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) legislation, which is currently before the parliament in Dublin.

He said that the Constitution provided that the President could refuse to sign a Bill, passed by the Oireachtas, if it contained a proposal of such national importance that it required the will of the people to be sought.

“If there ever was such a Bill, then this is definitely it,” Mr O Caolain added.

He said the matter should be put to the people, “either in a referendum on Nama or by pulling the plug on this disgraceful, discredited and bankrupt Government, thus allowing the people to vote in a general election”.

There was no doubt, said Mr O Caolain, about who Fianna Fail and the Greens were serving “with this rotten Bill”.

NAMA, he added, was “a bailout for the greediest and the most corrupt in Irish society: the bankers and the speculators whose boundless avarice has devastated the economy”.

Throughout the Celtic Tiger years, Fianna Fail-led governments pampered that elite group, said Mr O Caolain.

He added: “They allowed them to determine the State’s housing policy, which was to let the market drive everything and, boy, did that market drive. “It drove property prices to unreal and unsustainable levels. It drove a frenzy of greed for profitable property, inducing many, who could not afford to do so, to borrow to buy in the grossly inflated market.

“It drove debt to levels previously unknown in this country. It was fuelled by cheap loans supplied by a banking system corrupted by the culture of greed that saw massive salaries, bonuses and perks lavished at all senior levels in the financial institutions.”

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church-run agency Crosscare has said families had begun calling regularly to its three hot food centres in the Dublin archdiocese for food parcels.

It said impoverished families were finding it difficult to afford basics such as bread, tea and milk.

“This recession is hurting a lot of people but it is those who are poor who are feeling the effects the most,” Crosscare director Conor Hickey director said. “Clearly, we are now dealing with more and more people who until now were able to provide for their families.’’

Meanwhile, there has been a 39 per cent increase in illegal evictions, according the annual report from the Threshold housing campaign group.

It said illegal evictions, where a tenant is forced from their home either due to physical intimidation or the locks being changed, rose from 141 in 2007 to 196 last year.

Rent arrears were the reason for the remaining evictions, although the group said that in many instances the landlord “did not use legal means to reclaim the property”.

It also emerged yesterday that the number of people seeking information and support from the Citizens Information Board about social welfare and employment rights issues rose by a quarter in the first six months of the year.

The organisation has launched new initiatives aimed at the recently unemployed or people facing the prospect of redundancy, including a website called

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© 2009 Irish Republican News