Eoghan Murphy: a chocolate fireguard

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The minister for homelessness in Ireland is a man named Eoghan Murphy. He is the grandson of Russell Murphy – an accountant who was posthumously exposed as having stolen vast sums of money from his clients, who included Hugh Leonard and Gay Byrne (who had been a personal friend of the crook). He is the son of Henry Murphy, a lawyer who made millions from the Mahon Tribunal – a public inquiry in Ireland in 1997 to investigate allegations of corrupt payments to politicians regarding political decisions. He comes from enormous wealth (much of it criminal, no doubt, thanks to criminal Grandpa Russell). His official title is the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and for the past two years he has sat idly by while the homelessness crisis in Ireland reached catastrophic levels. He is a member of the Fine Gael party – a party that is popular among rich people. It is the Irish equivalent of the Tory Party in the UK.

The solution to the housing crisis is crystal clear to anyone with a modicum of common sense or humanity – the state should build public housing on state owned land and sell or rent to the people at an affordable level. Fine Gael won’t do this as it represents the banking industry and wealthy landowners, who are making a fortune from the housing disaster engulfing the country. Fine Gael has commissioned many reports on the issue and applied some worthless band aid measures to make it appear that it is addressing the emergency. For example they are designating geographical locations as rent pressure zones (meaning that a landlord cannot increase rent by more than 4% per year) but only after the rent has become unaffordable. This measure has been a dismal failure.

Fine Gael pays billions of euros each year to hotels, to house thousands of homeless families; and to private landlords with the worthless Housing Assistance Programme. Anything rather than intervene to fix the broken housing market. The housing nightmare is the worst in the history of the state and nothing substantive is being done to address it.

Fine Gael doesn’t care – it represents the wealthy who are not impacted by the housing disaster.

Murphy’s boss is the ‘socially awkward’ Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar – a qualified medical doctor, who earlier this year dismissed concerns by doctors in Waterford Hospital about dead bodies rotting in corridors in the morgue because of inadequate storage facilities. Varadkar is a gay man who remained in the closet until the age of 35, and who opposed equality for gay people until it no longer posed a risk to his career. A reflection of the type of person Varadkar is can be seen in his hero – Margaret Thatcher.

Murphy believes he is down with the struggles of young people, because he once shared a house while studying in Geneva. Earlier this year he said young workers should be ‘excited’ about the prospect of co-living, whereby people would live in houses where everyone would have their own bedroom and bathroom, but share living and kitchen space. This was his response to the proposal by Bartra Capital to develop a co-living building in Dun Laoghaire where up to forty people per floor in the development would share a common kitchen. For the utterly extortionate sum of €1300 per month. The minimum wage in Ireland is €9.80 per hour. It is people on low wages who struggle the most to afford housing.  Perhaps Murphy’s family connection to the criminal thief Russell Murphy has put blinkers on him when it comes to exploitation.  Effectively he was supporting the reintroduction of tenement dwelling.

Eoghan Murphy is an abject failure as minister for housing – despite the fact that he rolls up his sleeves in photos to make it look like he is hard at work. In any job where accountability is required he would have been sacked long ago. Failure after failure after failure is not rewarded in most positions. The fact that his gross incompetence as a minister is ignored, is representative of the Fine Gael attitude to Ireland.

It comes as no surprise therefore to read today that a new ‘luxury co-living’ building is being advertised in Dun Laoghaire. Called ‘The Orphanage’ the tagline on the advertisement reads “When you are there, it will become your adopted home.” The rooms are for rent for €1500 per month to the wealthy employees of multinational companies. It just so happens that this building is actually a renovated real life orphanage called ‘The Bird’s Nest’ which opened shortly after the Famine and where thousands of vulnerable children were housed (180 at a time) until 1975.

Thanks to Eoghan Murphy’s ineptitude and lack of compassion towards poor people, I think this story might actually be Peak Fine Gael. If ever direct action against a building was merited then it is in this instance.

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