Back at the start of this year, Socialist Appeal (Issue 193) published a little item in its 'Left and Right' about the so-called Ghost Estates of Ireland. here is what we said:
A book published last year called “Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger” (Fintan O’Toole - PublicAffairs books) has revealed some interesting facts about the huge house building boom which came to ruin when the Irish banks went belly up. All over Ireland are to be found newly-built houses which are just sitting empty. More than 300,000 such new houses are now rotting away in what are called “Ghost Estates.” The housing market has collapsed and there seems little chance of these houses being bought, ever. Many may end up just being knocked down.
Marxism explains how all capitalist crises can be reduced to a crisis of over-production, not of things which people need but of goods and commodities produced for sale in the market for profit. Surely though, people need houses. This is indeed the case but here they managed to go beyond even that demand. Mr OToole quotes the example of County Leitrim, a forgotten part of Ireland which has been in decline as a community since before the famine. Yet here a whopping 2,945 houses were built between 2006 and 2009. This for a county with less than 30,000 people in it. Mr. O’Toole quotes the Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis as noting that, based on growth estimates, only 588 houses would ever be needed to meet full demand. So who the hell was going to buy the other 2,000 or so, even if they had the cash?
Now, of course, people do not have the cash anyway. So workers are homeless and houses lie empty. The house building companies were in league with the government hoping to make a mint out of the boom that never was. These empty properties should be taken over and used to house those without decent accomodation.
Now we have been sent a update clipping from the BBC on the outcome:
The madness of capitalism continues
There are around 120,000 empty homes on ghost estates in the Irish Republic The first demolition of one of the Republic of Ireland's 'ghost estates' appears to have taken place. The half-built and unoccupied housing developments are the most obvious sign of the Republic's financial crisis.The Mullingar Advertiser has reported that three almost complete bungalows in the village of Ballingore have been knocked down.An official government report estimates that there are 120,000 homes in ghost estates.Of these, 77,000 were completed and occupied, while 33,000 were completed and vacant or nearly completed. Around 10,000 others are in early stages of construction.It is likely that a large number of these houses will eventually have to be demolished.Westmeath County Council is believed to have knocked down the development in Ballingore.The paper said that had the development been completed it would have doubled the size of the tiny village.Before and after pictures of the development have been published on the authoritative Namawinelake blog.An official government estimate, published in 2010, put the number of ghost estates at more 2,800.