The housing movement is not healthy
The housing movement is not in a healthy state. The rainbow coalition of groups is matched by a spectrum of policies. Behind the scenes different currents vie for influence. Demonstrations vary in size and frequency, with last year's 10,000 strong lobby of the Dail being the biggest until now. In comparison water charge demonstrations numbered over 100,000.
The starting point for a mass campaign is policy. An attempt has been made to unite the movement by lumping all the policies together. This won't work. The ICTU calls for a housing emergency with a mixture of private and public provision won't work. It copies past provision where public housing is offered as a small bone to the dog while private housing profits skyrocket. The policy risks turning a blind eye to government plans to privatise public lands and hand them to speculators at giveaway prices. We need a movement centred on mass public housing, based on need and absolute security of tenure. The rights of the workers, not the profit of the vultures.
The second element is absolute openness in strategy and tactics. A willingness to occupy and to resist goons carrying out evictions must be part of the mix as well as marching around Dublin lobbying corrupt politicians.
The third element for a successful movement is democracy. We can see from the campaign itself that, although it may have popular sympathy, it lacks broad active support. Drawing in a wider support means convincing workers to support the policies of the campaign and giving all the groups a voice in the decision making process.