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No room at the inn?

By Patrick Van Roy On December 7th, 2019

Guest post by Paul

There was a case of sectarianism in North Belfast a few days ago where a current DUP member of Belfast City Council phoned a social housing association raising ‘concerns’ about a Catholic single mother moving into a new build social housing complex in a perceived ‘loyalist area’ of the city. The house was subsequently vandalised, having its windows smashed and daubed with graffiti threatening anti Catholic violence daubed onto it and the Catholic woman intimidated out of moving into it:

 

DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst facing questions after sectarian targeting of Catholic mum

 

There’s also reports of a further two attacks on houses in the same area allegedly allocated to Catholics.

Those of you who are unfamiliar with Belfast won’t know that after the Berlin Wall came down Belfast was and is the only city in Europe to have physical structures which separate communities in parts of the city. There are some seventeen such physical structures around North and West Belfast with the longest one continuous one separating the Springfield/ Falls and Highfield Shankill areas:

 

Belfast peace line exhibits world’s border walls amid ‘looming’ Brexit

 

These are also a sizeable draw for Belfast’s conflict tourism trade:

 

The Belfast Peace Wall Murals

 

It’s been 20 years since the troubles officially ended in Belfast but the divisions in the capital of Northern Ireland are still clear for everyone to see, as you’ll soon realise if you visit the Peace Wall yourself.

I’m sure that all decent thinking people will condemn the subtle and not so subtle incidents of intimidation which led the young Catholic mother to refuse the social housing allocated to her and it got me thinking about a recent discussion on ATW regarding allocation of social housing and the argument that social housing should be allocated giving priority to ‘locals’ over ‘outsiders’. 

What should the criteria for social housing be based on and if allocation based on religion is wrong is allocation based on ethnicity not also the same principle?

31 Responses to “No room at the inn?”

  1. Thanks Pat.

  2. unbelievable in this day and age .. 1692 oh yeah that’s their calendar – sad to hear

  3. I’d be of the opinion that social resources allocated on anything other than an individual objective needs criteria is fundamentally unjust Kurt.

  4. the argument that social housing should be allocated giving priority to ‘locals’ over ‘outsiders’.

    I’m sure that the DUP councillor would not have been on the case if the “outsider” had been from the Shankill instead of Ardoyne.

  5. I’ve no idea how it work over there, there’s lots of stakeholders involved in allocation, pressure groups, i bet its a bit of a mess really with back scratching going on etc
    But its a sickening story , more shame to DUP .

  6. Kurt

    The area is in the North Belfast constituency where the DUP are fighting to retain a 2,000 majority over Sinn Fein. So feelings are running very high at the moment, especially after Boris Johnson made fools of them with his EU deal, as confirmed by yesterday’s leak which made clear that there will be customs checks between NI and GB in both directions.

  7. The DUP councillor in question is a sectarian lout Peter, brought in I suspect specifically to court the hard core loyalist vote.

    However I think it’s a secondary issue and used it to demonstrate the wider issue that ‘locals’ should have priority in the allocation of social resources.

  8. It’s your constituency isn’t it Peter? Safe assumption that you’re going to sit this one out?

  9. Yes Paul, I haven’t voted for 20 years. If I was it would be for Alliance.

    Staying off the register means that you will never be called for jury service 🙂

  10. i have sneaky feeling DUP gonna have a couple of bad results, where else can unionists protest against DUP .. they can cheekily vote SF , some know a united ireland is around the corner and it wont be so bad .. they might even like it .. shock horror 🙂

  11. I’d say that losing South Belfast to the SDLP is a buck bet and that North Belfast is seriously under threat from SF, (from the last time I looked Paddy Power had Finucane as slim favourite). That Naomi Long is a strong contender against Gavin Robinson in East Belfast and that they (the DUP), will pick up Sylvia Hermon’s old seat in North Down.

    Having said that I’m following this from afar and Seamus is your man for a more in depth analysis.

  12. Yes Paul, from memory that is what Seamus predicted about ten days ago. North Down could go to Alliance if enough tactical voting happens. Here’s hoping.

    Kurt

    A united Ireland is not imminent unless the Tories decide to facilitate it. At the moment they are talking a good UK game but they are playing an English nationalist game. A recent poll showed that well over 50% of their membership are happy to see both Scotland and Northern Ireland leave the UK in order to get their beloved hard Brexit. An opinion piece in the Torygraph a few months ago endorsed this 100% and undoubtedly encouraged English nationalist Johnson to sell out Northern Ireland in his EU “deal” last month.

  13. I don’t think that Alliance will take North Down Peter. It’s a naturally unionist seat but I don’t think there’s enough liberal unionists in the constituency to see someone ambivilent to the constitutional issue elected. The boy general Bryson, QC’s smear tactics against Alliance there have been particularly dispicable but I don’t think they’ll be enough to carry Stephen Farry over the line, unfortunately.

    I think the idea of a UI has never been stronger in the history of the NI state.

  14. Maybe Paul, but I meant to add East Belfast as a possible Alliance gain.

    Baby Doc is being investigated again for undeclared freebies, I’m shocked I tell you:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-50683854

  15. Paul

    What should the criteria for social housing be based on and if allocation based on religion is wrong is allocation based on ethnicity not also the same principle?

    Good post Paul.
    I think allocation based on either of those things is wrong. I think creating divisions in society based on religion is a very bad idea. This is why I’m against faith schools.

  16. Absolutely Dave. I’m be of the opinion that social resources allocated on anything other than an individual objective needs criteria is fundamentally unjust.

    What’s interesting is that those most vocal in arguing the ‘local’ point seem to be staying away from this thread.

  17. //I haven’t voted for 20 years. If I was it would be for Alliance//

    Peter, just asking: why would you not give your vote to Alliance?

    Because of its Remain policy?

  18. He seems sufficiently underwhelming as a human, not unlike several politicians from the various factions.

  19. Would anyone know about How many people in the UK live in social/government housing?

    It would be a small percentage of tenants in the US, with the tenants being largely the poor

    I’d believe that the Percentage of all tenants in social housing would be higher in the UK, with more working class people as tenants

  20. I think people in social housing should be helped to buy their own homes wherever they like. Most people take care of homes they own and it gives them equity which can be used for further improvements in their lives. Also, they probably are less inclined to anti-social behavior and are good neighbors.

  21. I think snArlene has just guaranteed SF a win in North Belfast:

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/pankhurst-backed-by-dup-amid-housing-intimidation-claims-1.4108731

  22. Peter, just asking: why would you not give your vote to Alliance? Because of its Remain policy?

    Noel

    I don’t vote. I’m pro-Brexit but that would not stop me voting for a Remain party if I agree with it in general.

  23. you don’t vote……… that’s disgraceful.

  24. I think people in social housing should be helped to buy their own homes wherever they like.

    I have no problem with that, provided that a new social rent house is built to replace the one sold. The problem with the sale of council houses in the UK is that a majority of them have ended up in the ownership of private landlords charging high rents. This was deliberate Tory policy as the local authorities were prohibited from using the sales proceeds to build replacement housing, and it is a major factor in our current housing crisis.

  25. you don’t vote……… that’s disgraceful.

    I would support a law that makes voting compulsory provided you could spoil your ballot. Until that happens I will stay off the register.

  26. Peter, your 7.53 is 100%

  27. How is Spain Paul? Has it settled since the election?

    I know that Catalonia is still festering with the trials. They are trying to extradite one of the leaders from Scotland and I hope they get told to multiply and go forth.

  28. The violence seems to have fizzled out to a natural death as predicted Peter but I don’t think it’s over yet, not by a long shot.

    Last I read there were procedural descrepancies in Clara Ponsati’s Euro Arrest Warrant so hopefully Madrileño vindictiveness will be unsuccessful-

  29. Peter

    “I have no problem with that, provided that a new social rent house is built to replace the one sold.” I disagree. I think social housing should be phased out over time. Owning one’s own home is better than living in social housing. Social housing could be sold ONLY to the occupier and not investors and funds made available for improvement of those homes. Generally I don’t think councils do a good job of maintaining and managing housing.

  30. Owning one’s own home is better than living in social housing.

    Agreed, but not everyone can afford to buy, so if there is no social housing they will be renting from private landlords. And that means high rents and lack of security. The rents are so high that they have to be subsidised by taxpayers through housing benefit, which is a ludicrous transfer of wealth from public to private.

    Social housing could be sold ONLY to the occupier and not investors

    Social housing has only been sold to sitting tenants, but most of them have since sold to private landlords as there were no restrictions to stop them doing that. They bought the houses at a discounted price and sold within a few years at inflated market prices. This was totally forseen by the Tories and a deliberate policy for winning votes.

    Generally I don’t think councils do a good job of maintaining and managing housing.

    Many councils have a poor record with social housing, but by no means all. Private landlords have a much worse record in general, including refusing to rent to low-income families and cramming 20 illegal immigrants into houses in London that should only house six people. Needless to add that many of these landlords are foreign “investors”.

  31. Peter

    The government could provide financing for people to buy their homes.

    If homes were sold to the occupiers restrictions could be put in place to prevent sales to investors. For example, it could be a condition that the buyer must live in the purchased home for a specified period of time.

    I think investing in a home should be considered different from other types of investment. It should be exclusively for those who live in their homes and it should be relatively affordable. The more homes that are occupier owned the less need for rentals. Those wishing to invest can buy stocks, gold, art, etc. Homes provide shelter which is an essential and should be viewed as essential as food, medical care and education. To my mind getting rid of real estate residential investors and reducing the role of councils in housing would be an improvement. At one time medical care and education were only private but that changed for the better and I think that can happen with housing once society is determined to make major changes in the way we view the advantages of owner occupied housing for all.