Letters to the Editor: ‘Even in ‘The Hungry Fifties’, our governments recognised that families had a right to a home’


Letters to the Editor: ‘Even in ‘The Hungry Fifties’, our governments recognised that families had a right to a home’

Home comforts: Coolock in Dublin provided good housing in the late 1950s.
Photo: Independent/NPA
Home comforts: Coolock in Dublin provided good housing in the late 1950s.
Photo: Independent/NPA

My mother and father wed in 1950s Ireland. Unable to afford a house, they moved in with my grandmother. The house consisted of two rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs. The toilet was located outside.

I arrived later that year and spent the first few years of my life in that house. During that time, the council built 147 local authority houses.

We were allocated one in 1952. It was a marvel to us. We had three bedrooms, two of which contained fireplaces. Our kitchen cooker benefited from ‘Town Gas’, unheard of in previous council houses.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

window.gigyaIntegration = window.gigyaIntegration || {};
gigyaIntegration.command = gigyaIntegration.command || ;
gigyaIntegration.command.push(function() {
onLogin: function(e) {
$(‘#datawall-sign-in’).click(function(e) {
signupSource: ‘opinion’
$(‘#datawall-sign-up’).click(function(e) {
signupSource: ‘opinion’

The local lino factory ensured our floors were covered in colourful displays. And most importantly, our bathroom was indoors. In 1953 (the Marian Year, for those old enough to remember), the council built another row of houses called Marian Terrace.

This time in Ireland was often referred to as ‘The Hungry Fifties’. In fact, it was said that people didn’t have tuppence to rub together.

Times were hard, much harder than today, and the word homeless didn’t appear in the national media. Yet the government of the day built houses. What was achieved can be seen in every town and city today. Affordable housing was seen as a right, some place to raise a family and get on with your life. Vultures and developers, driven by profit, didn’t enter the equation.

Collectively, our leaders should hang their heads in shame over their inability to emulate ‘The Hungry Fifties’. Family homes have become a commodity, not a right.

Soon you can have your say. Those who seek power will be knocking on your door for the local elections. Question them and don’t accept their rehearsed answers.

They won’t be leaving my door without an earful!

Tom Moloney

Clonmel, Co Tipperary


Plants livestock eat must be factored in emissions

Meat is the greatest source of protein and dairy the greatest source of calcium in our food; the former is necessary for all our organs and the latter for all our nerves and bones.

Compared to what fresh vegetables will cost to get the same amount of protein, most families – especially those on welfare – will not be able to afford to change, so health problems may result.

What farm animals eat is grown with CO2 from the atmosphere so they’re not the greatest source of emissions. CO2 from coal, oil, lignite, and turf and CH4 from gas are much greater greenhouse gas sources and, unlike what animals eat, they are not renewables.

The latter in the form of feed, if it’s not imported, must be seen in our carbon footprint against what animals emit in methane but the less animals there are to eat what’s grown, the less CO2 will plants remove from the atmosphere.

Michael McPhillips

Ballymun, Dublin 9


Carbon action sacrificed on altar of the ‘economy’

Margaret Donnelly’s indignation at the suggestion Irish people should eat less meat to help save the environment (‘I won’t apologise for my burger – and nor should anybody else’, Irish Independent, April 5) is sadly typical of the short-term planning and self-interest that has so blighted our public policy.

Time and again we have seen the interests of the wider public, children, young people and future generations sacrificed in favour of vested interests on the altar of the “economy”.

The homeless crisis worsens, yet we have a drip feed of social housing. The environment degrades, yet emissions taxes are put on hold (an election is surely looming). The health service, the gardaí, the legal sector – all unreformed with devastating consequences.

Improved public transport through gridlocked south Dublin has been shelved lest the burghers of Ranelagh and Rathgar be temporarily inconvenienced.

Now Ms Donnelly defends the outrage with “what-aboutery” references to rice farming and obesity.

Her real objection however is, as ever, that it may cost the beef farmers.

Stephen Adam

Dublin 5


Female cheerleaders need to stop blaming the boys

As A grandfather of three young boys – I was not blessed with sons of my own – I’m really getting sick and tired of this constant attack on males (‘A boy in class could be a danger – girls warned of sex abuse’, Irish Independent, April 1).

It has now moved from men to boys.

When are the female cheerleaders going to start taking responsibility for what they are preaching and encouraging their listeners to embrace?

It seems it does not matter as long as you can blame somebody else for the consequences.

Males and females, boys and girls, are different and have needs, and emotions which are also different. Equality is not the same as sameness.

Joseph Condren

Tallaght, Dublin 24


Government helps North by sticking to backstop

Enoes McBride writes in support of Dan O’Brien’s suggestion of changes to the backstop (Irish Independent, April 1).

I strongly disagree. It is not, as he asserts, “the main sticking point that is preventing the Withdrawal Agreement passing in the House of Commons”.

It is merely a useful pretext for a tactical alliance of convenience between the DUP and the ERG Tories who want a hard Brexit so they can make a trade deal with Donald Trump. Many who voted against the agreement are Remainers or at least supporters of a much softer Brexit with a customs union and a close relationship with the single market.

What the Irish Government could do would be to take up Michel Barnier’s suggestion that Britain be given a unilateral right to exit the backstop without Northern Ireland. In such an eventuality, Northern Ireland’s withdrawal should be subject to Stormont approval on a cross-community basis as required by the Good Friday Agreement.

However, under no circumstances should the Irish Government agree to any modification of the backstop without the closest consultation with Northern Ireland’s elected representatives and economic operators, most of whom strongly support the backstop.

The Government has a duty to defend their interests and keep faith with them. Otherwise, what’s the point of holding cross-border economic forums?

Ed Kelly

St Helens, Merseyside, UK


Marriage in haste more likely if divorce is easier

Lorraine Courtney’s views on the upcoming divorce referendum (Irish Independent, April 2) are confusing. She favours the Government’s proposal to make a divorce easier to obtain, yet she argues marriage should be a more conscious and deliberate process.

She proposes that couples be required to take a myriad pre-marriage tests, courses and classes in order to prevent them from entering marriage thoughtlessly, yet she supports the removal of the four-year time frame – the main legal reason you should not enter marriage thoughtlessly!

Surely, the best way to ensure marriage is a carefully thought-out process is to make it a difficult contract to dissolve.

Surely, the best way to encourage couples to think carefully about whether marriage is the right step to take is to have a divorce system that recognises the seriousness of the marriage bond.

While appreciating Lorraine’s concerns surrounding couples marrying “on a whim”, I don’t see how making divorce easier is going to resolve that problem.

On the contrary, I can only see it exacerbating it. It’ll be a No for me.

Simeon Burke

Castlebar, Co Mayo


‘May’ day, ‘May’ day – I am bored with Brexit

‘May’ I put two questions to all the hard-working journalists and editors at the Irish Independent, as follows:

1: Has deciding what to publish at your daily meetings become a little boring since Brexit?

2: Not as challenging maybe?

It is of course a very serious subject and has to be reported. Nonetheless, as an avid reader of your newspaper, I’m Brexit bored. ‘May’ the end come soon.

Brian McDevitt

Glenties, Co Donegal


The greeting that really makes you work for it

The recent BBC tribute to the late Dave Allen reminded me of his take on the Irish greeting, “may the road rise to meet you”. Dave reasonably suggested that one would always be walking uphill.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Irish Independent


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here