All Politics Is Local

A Letter From Ireland

a Chara,

It is election season. Doors are being knocked. Posters hang in full bloom from lampposts. On June 7th, voters across the south will go out to elect new County Councilors and Members of the European Parliament.

I have been on the doors with the excellent local Sinn Féin candidate. I live in a commuter village outside of Dublin. They say that all politics is local. It is in these villages and small towns that decisions made in the Dáil, European Parliament, and County Councils play out.

In the 2000’s the village was one of the fastest growing in the state, becoming five times the size in as many years. Government policy was developer-led with cheap credit, relaxed regulations, and almost zero oversight. The model was, “build them cheap and sell them quick.”

Families moved in and created diverse communities. It remains a great place to live. However, the developer-led approach meant no investment in infrastructure. Water outages became common, roads backed up, and the bus service hit and (mostly) miss. Today we are still dealing with legacy and bad government policy and council planning. Lack of building regulations has led to defects trapping homeowners in unsafe accommodations and with the state spending millions repairing homes.

On the doors, housing is the dominant issue. Families that moved to new homes twenty years ago now see their adult children emigrating or stuck in their childhood bedrooms. For this generation the idea of owning a home is unattainable and rents unaffordable. Government policy is led by developers who control supply and institutional landlords with deep pockets competing against working families.

This is not solely an Irish issue and impacts beyond my home village. There are over 14,000 homeless living in emergency accommodations. In addition, over 1000 asylum seekers are living rough on the streets or in government-supported, tented accommodation.

We are a wealthy nation, the land of cead mile failte, which is failing our children and our international responsibilities. Our nation has not recovered its population from An Gorta Mór. Ireland is not full but it has been failed by generations of political leaders.

When immigration has been raised on the doors, the people connect the dots. Unlike the loudest and most extreme voices on social media, they know the problem is government-made and that it can be solved. We are a nation that built the world. We can build homes. We can meet our domestic and international obligations. It is not an either/or scenario. We can and we must do both.

The village I live in has been represented by the same parties since the foundation of the state and oversaw the disastrous policies from the 2000s to today. We hope to elect a Sinn Féin councilor to represent those who want better. I’ll keep you updated on the campaign. It is still early days and we have much to do to break with the past and instill hope in the people.

Have a great weekend. I’m away to knock on some doors and listen to the people.

Is mise,

Ciarán

Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.