What a fabulous picture of Ballybunion beach taken on Sunday last which was thronged. Thanks to Kathleen Mullane for passing it on.

Athea GAA Club Draw

Some tickets are still available for the 500 Club Draw which will be beginning soon. The local GAA club is one of the most progressive in the country and now has a pitch that is the envy of others. Unfortunately everything comes at a price and funds are badly needed to continue with the good works. The benefits of the GAA to the local community is massive. It gives the younger generations an activity that is healthy, encourages social interaction away from electronic devices and builds character through learning from both wins and defeats. By supporting this draw we are not only promoting the welfare of the community but we are also in with a chance of winning one of the many great money prizes on offer so, if you have not already  got a ticket, please consider doing so by contacting Kathleen Mullane on  087-1233361 or any member of the committee.

Athea  Comhaltas   Branch

The next Trad Session will take place on Sunday next, July 1st at Brown Joe’s Bar from 7 to 9pm. Come along and join in the fun.

Athea Annual Outing

The annual outing will take place this year on Tuesday July 17th. Visiting the Delta Centre, Sensory Gardens in Carlow with an optional visit to Carlow Museum and free time for shopping in town.

Bus departs from Newcastle West at 7.45am via Templeglantine, Athea 8.15am, Carrigkerry, Ardagh, Rathkeale, Adare, South Court.   For more information contact Marie Wrenn on 087 7674832 or Joan Fitzgibbon on 087 9865005.

Solving the Housing Crisis 

By Domhnall de Barra 

Ireland has come a long way since the birth of the nation in the early part of the last century. Times were tough then, what with the first World War and the shortages it created and the lack of proper finances.  To make matters worse the Irish civil War between those who wanted to accept a 26 county republic and those who wanted to hold out for a 32 county independent nation tore the country asunder and created division even within families. Then, while the country was still trying to get on its feet the second World War started in 1939 and continued to 1945, incidentally the year I was born.

As a child I remember the ration books. Basic essentials were so scarce that each household were give a ration book that entitled them to a certain amount of goods like tea, sugar, butter etc.  There was no money, no employment and most of the able-bodied young men and women were forced to emigrate to the UK or America to make a living for themselves.

Despite all these problems Ireland began to develop and flourished towards the end of the ‘sixties and at last there was a bit of employment at home. During all this time the government, whether Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or coalition, did their best to look after the citizens and nobody was left homeless. Council houses were built in towns and villages and rented out to people who needed them. In the country cottages were built for anyone who could supply an acre of land and satisfied the means test. All these local authority houses could be purchased over a number of years and many people ended up owning their own homes.

Fast forward to today and though we are a rich nation by comparison to many others, we have a homeless crisis and a rental crisis that is making it all but impossible for people to live in places like Dublin. The reason we have a housing crisis is down to the fact that local authorities have almost ceased to build suitable houses for the people of the nation. Yes, we had the disaster of a bank crash in 2008 and the fallout left the country in serious debt but long before that there was a change in the attitude to supplying council houses. The cottage in the country was the first to go. They claimed that one off development was too costly to service and it would be easier to manage people living together in towns and villages. At the same time they were pulling back on the building of houses in these  very towns and villages encouraging instead people to buy houses from private developers. This left more and more families and newlyweds looking for houses and as a result the cost of houses began to spiral. It has now reached crisis point, especially in Dublin, where the price of a house far outreaches the ability of the ordinary worker to pay back a loan – that is if a loan could be arranged in the first place. There are millions being spent on temporary accommodation for families in B&Bs and hotels which are totally unsuitable. If this money had been spent on housing we would not have the problem we have today. All agree that housing is needed but the start-up rate is very slow. The councils and corporations own plenty of land and they should cut half the red tape and get on with the job immediately. There is also a case to be made for building high rise apartments, both public and private in city centres. Height restrictions should be looked at again and removed where necessary. There are people who want to live in the city centres for various reasons. Living so close to all amenities they do not need motor cars and will not be adding to the traffic congestion that is another problem. Rural resettlement should also be seriously looked at. There are thousands of vacant houses throughout the country that could be bought and renovated at very little cost that would suit homeless families from the cities. It might not be their ideal place to live but surely it is better than being cooped up in a hotel room or living rough on the streets.  It would help if something that was tried a few years ago was put on the agenda again. That is the  moving of government departments from Dublin to rural towns. In these days of mass communication and the internet, it makes no difference where a department is located. Those that have moved previously are working really well and add greatly to the local economy. It also frees up more houses and apartments in the city that can be made available to those in need.

There is a budget approaching and in the lead up to it all the various vested interests will be lobbying for their piece of the pie. As long as they get what they want they will be happy and won’t give a thought for the poor unfortunates who don’t have the most basic need; a roof over their heads. There should be no talk of tax cuts, raises or any other financial concessions until we have at least two problems solved –  housing and the health service. Everything else can and must wait. The only problem is that our politicians will have one eye on getting re-elected and will tend to pander to groups that will repay them at the ballot box. That is the unfortunate reality but it is time for them to step up to the mark and do something right for a change. They may be pleasantly surprised at the reaction.