James Connolly


The Housing Problem from a New Standpoint


Workers’ Republic, 11 December 1915.
Reprinted in Red Banner, No.10.
Transcribed by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The magnificent meeting at the Mansion House of Dublin on Tuesday was surely calculated to give food for thought to our rulers. That meeting of serious minded men and women of all classes and religious denominations, in its demand for an adequate loan to the Dublin Corporation to enable that body to provide homes for the housing of the workers, placed before the government of this country a square issue that can neither be avoided nor ignored. That issue may be thus stated:

According to the Report of the Departmental Committee upon the Housing Conditions of Dublin the present state of these conditions are such that thousands of lives are lost needlessly every year from preventable diseases, cleanliness is rendered almost impossible and thus disease is daily spread, every handicap is placed in the way of morality and every evil and vicious tendency fostered and encouraged. In short, the death rate of Dublin is the highest in Europe, and the conditions which have produced that high death rate are acknowledged to be a disgrace to civilisation.

So much being acknowledged by the British Government that Government in a month following the outbreak of the present war voted a large sum of money as a loan to assist in the rebuilding of Dublin. But upon that money being applied for by the Corporation that body was told in effect that it could not be had as it was now required for the prosecution of the War.

As was well emphasised at the meeting this statement of the Government was equal to an official declaration, that the immediate well-being of Dublin was incompatible with the interests of the British Empire, that the poor of Dublin must die in their slums in order that the British Empire may continue to shine in its glory.

We can but wonder at the stupidity of a Government that makes such a statement at such a time, that cruelly breaks its solemn promise to a suffering people – appeals to men to die in its behalf whilst it haggles over the loan of a few thousand pounds to provide houses for those they leave behind.

England has had statesmen in the past, as had Ireland. To-day both countries have but a weird collection of second-rate politicians who imagine that they are big men because they stand upon a big platform, and who fancy they show their greatness by haggling over petty items of expenditure whilst at the same time ordering the spendthrift use of human lives.

Whom the gods wish to destroy they first drive mad. Surely madness has seized upon our rulers when we see them telling the people of the Capital of Ireland that they cannot hope to rebuild a city of healthy homes on a civilised basis, and that the reason why they cannot so hope is because Ireland is a part of the British Empire.


Last updated on 15.8.2003