Write an essay on the strengths and weaknesses of local authority housing in Ireland. Illustrate your discussion with examples.
Local authority housing has been the centre of much debate in the media and Irish society; some may see it is a burden on the public purse while others believe that it is progressive and important in creating and equal society. Whichever personal view is taken, it would be negligent to believe that local authority housing is not integral in the Irish housing system. According to Census 2011, there are 129,033 current local authority dwellings in Ireland (Census, 2011). Although this figure represents a small percentage of current housing it does not take into account the many local authority dwellings that have been bought outright through state incentives such as the Tenant Purchase Scheme. The Tenant Purchase Scheme implemented by the local authorities, allows tenants of local authority housing to buy their home outright from the state for a reduced cost without the pressure of a mortgage. This scheme encourages home ownership, a novel and distinct feature of the Irish housing system. ‘Out of approximately 330,000 local authority dwellings that have been built since 1898 230,000 of these units have been sold into private ownership’ (O’ Connell and Fahey, 1999).
To understand contemporary arguments regarding the effectiveness of local authority housing one must look at the historical context in which dwellings of this type were created. Prior to the nineteenth century there was no local authority housing available in Ireland and as a nation governed by the U.K. Poor law and work houses for the lower classes were endemic until the Land Reform Programme in the 1880’s. The Land Reform Programme aimed to give back land to Irish people which had been owned by the Protestant ascendency, this land reform led to rural housing being allocated to agricultural laborers and is seen as the first move towards local authority housing...
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