Owen Keegan, the chief executive of Dublin City Council, is the most powerful official in the city.
He recently claimed that ‘Dublin is a major draw for people who are homeless because there is a very wide range of service provision.’
It was an appalling remark that sought to cover up for the council’s own failures.
Last year, for example, Dublin City Council built just 74 social homes and 69 of these were rapid-build modular housing. In other words, just 5 standard social homes were built in 2018.
This helps to explain why there are 17,745 people languish on the housing list in the city.
Even this figure, however, is an under-estimate because the tactic of Dublin City Council is to regularly cull the list. People do not return questionnaires are regularly struck off the housing list.
If there was a decent left-wing city council, top officials like Owen Keegan would be removed from his position because of the housing crisis.
Yet a resolution to remove Keegan that was moved by People Before Profit councillor, Tina MacVeigh, was defeated by a combination of the votes of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail and a series of unsavoury manoeuvres by parties who claim to be left.
The Labour Party voted overwhelmingly to let Owen Keegan keep his position.
Sinn Fein voted both ways, for and against. But, more significantly, only half of its councillors turned up for the vote – the other half were not present.
Some independent councillors who claim to be left wing, either abstained or did not turn up. One of them represents the Ringsend area where an incinerator has been built because Keegan helped push it through.
This significant vote shows why we need a genuine left council that will take serious measures to tackle the housing crisis. That means challenging and removing top officials who fail to carry out a proper programme for building social housing.