“You can’t trust US with housing?”

In a yet to be published response to Alan Ruddock’s MT piece on Northern Ireland’s status as an ad hoc social economy I’ve suggested that NI’s polliticians are suffering from a lack of confidence in either the future or the efficacy of constitutional politics. Now at least two parties have complained because Peter Hain is planning to transfer power over housing to the previously powerless Council tier of local government. We should get the detail on Tuesday.

  • Pete Baker

    I’ve suggested that NI’s politicians are suffering from a lack of confidence in either the future or the efficacy of constitutional politics.

    Not to mention the public’s lack of confidence as well, Mick..

    And I hope you’ve placed a good part of the blame for that on both governments repeatedly and cynically manipulating The Process™..

  • IJP

    Mick

    What do you mean by ‘constitutional politics’?

    If you mean ‘politics based on the constitutional question’, of course you’re entirely correct. If we continue with that path, we’ll continue having every issue sectarianized – and continue placing the future of our children, our housing and our infrastructure in the hands of our colonial rulers.

  • fair_deal

    Have neither of these people heard of Section 75 and the protections it offers?

  • lib2016

    No wonder the SDLP is finished – did they really think we marched all those years ago for unelected quangos?

    It has taken thirty years to see some real reforms and the SDLP seem terrified of the prospect.

  • Brian Boru

    The abolition of council control in the past was likely due to the disgraceful sectarianism shown in the allocation of housing in the past. It was once the case of course that unless you owned a home you couldn’t vote, and this was why 10,000 Protestant in Derry were able to outvote 20,000 Catholics and control the corporation for many decades. Of course, that rule is no longer in place so it could be argued the status-quo is no longer necessary. Not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing though, as the removal of this incentive to discrimination doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t happen for tribal reasons.

  • Mick Fealty

    IJP,

    I meant as opposed to ‘street politics’ or the ‘politics of protest’.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Brian Boru, I wish your commentary could improve beyond boring histrionics steeped in the past.

    The Housing Executive was indeed created (by the Stormont government under O’Neill AFAIK) in order to allocate housing in the country more fairly – and I think it’s pretty much universally accepted that it did so successfully and still does and stands as one of the more successful, albeit belated, moves made by Stormont to try to improve upon equality in NI.

    I would like to see the day when the HE is abolished and it’s powers returned to district councils, primarily because decisions concerning spend on local housing should be taken by local, accountable politicians rather than civil servants sitting on a quango. However, work would need to be done to allieviate the concern that a lot of people may have, which is that the conditions which led to the HE’s creation have not changed.

  • Shore Road Resident

    This will be an unmitigated disaster.
    Sometimes I wonder if Hain is deliberately trying to destabilise those few parts of our polity that actually function.

  • Ciarán Irvine

    Comrade Stalin: If you were a fenian living in Castlereagh council, would you trust them to allocate houses fairly? There’ve been allegations that Newry & Mourne are less than strictly impartial too, just to throw in the obligatory “balance”.

    We’d still need a some organisation overseeing and monitoring what the councils are up to in this area to prevent abuse. Sad but true.

  • abucs

    i hope we can all agree that, as yet, NI cannot be a normal functioning democracy and that normal democratic processes such as a clear majoritism in many instances must be protected against as it has the clear potential to create instability and fear.

    As Ciarn says. “This is unfortunate”. But true.

  • Alan

    Some people are clearly happy living in a sectarian society. Why else would you expect local politicians to allocate homes on a sectarian basis? The Housing managers would all be working to policy, would all be open to scrutiny, and cases of discrimination could be taken to the courts. Old doddery Joe Councillor won’t get to allocate.

    The NIHE have made huge strides in improving our public housing stock, creating homes for people with special needs and tackling homelessness. They also have had a huge influence on housing and fuel poverty.

    However, they have also taken Housing out of the public light – unlike the Trusts and Boards, they do not meet in public, their agendas and minutes are not readily available, they meet to explain their actions with the Housing Council, consisting only of elected councillors(It would have been be nice to see tenants representatives on the Board.) Yet they are responsible for substantial investment in accomodation, health and the wider community in the poorest areas.

    The SDLP have their own creation myth, that their NIHE brought sanity to housing in Northern Ireland. Perhaps it is time to think outside the sectarian box.

  • lib2016

    It’s probably a sign of my great age (could we have some respect, there at the back!) but I can remember when the NIHE was brought in. Like so much else at the time such as the unlamented Derry Commission it was an attempt to slow reform.

    If the local councils were going to be sorted out and ‘themmuns’ were actually going to see the possibility of making advances by constitutional means then the establishment made certain that the new councils would be as powerless as possible.

    It’s still the same policy of course, too little too late followed by bewilderment at the native’s ingratitude.

  • Animus

    The HE’s equality forum does meet publicly and is open to membership (primarily from groups representing the Section 75 designation). Their work has been consistently good, and I’m usually quick to decry public authorities for their toothless section 75 policy-making. Cases for discrimination can be taken to court at present under a number of legislative tools.

    The HE has failed in its dealings with the Travelling community, but then so has DOE and I can’t see that the Councils would do any better.

  • Brian Boru

    “The Housing Executive was indeed created (by the Stormont government under O’Neill AFAIK) in order to allocate housing in the country more fairly – and I think it’s pretty much universally accepted that it did so successfully and still does and stands as one of the more successful, albeit belated, moves made by Stormont to try to improve upon equality in NI.”

    One of the reasons he was brought down wasn’t it? The only one of those leaders who tried to improve address the discrimination that was rampant at the time.