Former Sinn Fein, Golden Boy, was Watching the SF Ard Fheis, from his, Jail Cell, in Colour, of Course? Dowdall the man, Who Knows a lot? Sinn Fein aura is so inclusive but quite the opposite, a shortage of replies to emails is a place to start. Why? Control? I just can’t believe that they were not more aware about Dowdall, the Golden Boy …

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FG and FF's housing potshots at each other make it an easy win for SF's slogans and promises

FG and FF’s housing potshots at each other make it an easy win for SF’s slogans and promises

 5th November 2022


FG and FF’s housing potshots at each other make it an easy win for SF’s slogans and promises©

Those were the words of Sinn Féin’s Housing spokesperson Eoin O’Broin when addressing the 2,000 attendees at the party Ard Fheis at the RDS in Dublin today.

“Sinn Féín has your back,” he said. 

“We have the policy, we have the ambition, give us a chance and let us deliver.

“We are part of the change you want to see.

“Help us demand safe and secure affordable housing for all,” he said to rapturous applause among his party members. 

The call was echoed by the party leader during her closing speech this evening. 

During the live broadcast, which was aired on RTÉ, McDonald said: 

“To everyone watching tonight: I am asking you to give us a chance to lead. To deliver for you, for your family, for your community. For all of Ireland. Give us that chance – that chance to lead – and we will get the work done.”

The party’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty also knew what notes to hit. 

He accused the Government of “chipping away at the dreams of young people”. 

Doherty said those in power are “dithering and delaying” with tackling the cost of living crisis, housing and other issues.

Public Expenditure and Reform spokesperson Mairead Farrell told the crowd that her friends have said “there is nothing for us here”. She said Ireland is looking down the barrel of yet more immigration of our young people. 

“We can bring about change,” said the party’s health spokesperson, David Cullinane, who said this can be done when Mary Lou McDonald is Taoiseach. 

These are all statements that go down well in a packed out auditorium of party members, there’s no doubt.

But they appear to be resonating with a public that is at the end of its tether. Statements like these are easy wins for any party – particularly when the public is bombarded with depressing news about the state of the nation in terms of housing, health and the cost of living. 

Like when the housing charity, Threshold, says it answered on average one call every 20 minutes from private renters facing eviction in the first nine months of the year. 

Or when the ESRI’s second annual Poverty, Income Inequality and Living Standards in Ireland report, says that private rents increased by 84% over the last decade while income inequality is at a record low.

These facts and figures do chip away at people who are looking for some sort of answer that will secure their future and offer some hope.

Sinn Féin in the polls 

The Ard Fheis this weekend comes at a time when when the latest Ipsos/Irish Times poll put Sinn Féin at 35%, down one point, but still the party with the largest support. 

The coalition parties are trailing significantly behind, and despite getting somewhat of a small budget bounce, the deepset inertia felt by many, particularly those aged between 20 and 40, is something it is difficult to work back from. 

Despite a general election being two years out, the dogs on the street know that housing will be top of the agenda. 

The Fianna Fáil party knows that if it fails to make progress with the housing crisis, it is game over for the party. 

Last year, a number of TDs and senators in the party told The Journal that a “radical” plan is needed, or they face permanent expulsion from the political scene.

Fine Gael also seem to be cottoning on.

No longer happy to leave the whole housing crisis to Darragh O’Brien, Leo Varadkar said that the Government’s Housing For All plan might need a fresh look.

In recent weeks, there have been mutterings of an overhaul of housing policy in the new year. 

In fairness, Fianna Fáil has made some progress. It considers itself the party of home ownership, after all, and it is making some strides in meeting its targets, with commencements also up.

One aspect the coalition parties were slow to acknowledge and deal with was the crisis renters have been facing, for years now. Only this year we saw a renters tax credit. Better late than never? More of a case of too little too late for many.

The crisis is so deeply inset now that the measure is pittance in comparison to the extortionate rents many are paying. 

It’s only the beginning, the Taoiseach was quick to point out recently.

Such statements make it clear that the realisation has set in, that both Fianna Fáil’s and Fine Gael’s voter base are impacted by the rental and housing crisis.

Not just because they themselves might be struggling, but because many in their base have come to realise that their 30-something child is still living at home, with no sign of them getting a foot on the property ladder any time soon. 

Of course, Fianna Fáil will state they have had to start from a very low base, and while not naming names, they often highlight that the Government last time around (who were they again?) seriously underfunded housing for over a decade. 

Fine Gael are then quick to roll out Reeling in the Years to highlight what happened in the Celtic Tiger under Fianna Fáil, and how they have to go in and clean up the mess. 

Cheap point scoring between the two parties could be seen on Twitter in the run up to the Sinn Féin address this week:

While Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael take cheap potshots at one another over who is to blame, Sinn Féin only have to sit back and watch the poll numbers rise. 

While they chip away at the Government parties and throw out easy slogans like “give us a chance”, “we’ll solve the housing crisis”, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil choose to take chunks out of each other. 

The truth of the matter is it is an easy win for Sinn Féin when the public are looking for anyone, anyone at all, that can make a significant change. 

However, if Sinn Féin manages ride it high in the polls all the way to the election, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will only have themselves to blame.

But if Sinn Féin are successful in becoming the largest party in Government with Mary Lou McDonald at the helm, it will soon realise that promises like “we will solve the housing crisis” will need to be delivered upon, and that turning a tanker in a storm can be slow. 


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