keywords: Politics Clientelism Irish clientelist political Urban Ireland information reputation brokerage Irish county council administration government planning brokers clients Dublin bribery county councillors TDs planning rezoning development plan illegal housing corruption influence information patrons political local city corporation

Politics and Clientelism in Urban Ireland:
information, reputation, and brokerage

(c)Lee Komito 1985
University Microfilms International 8603660

The conversion of the original typescript has resulted in some errors in formatting.

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V. Dublin

Dublin occupies a special position in Ireland. Dublin has been the link between Ireland and the rest of the world, and it seems to overshadow and dominate provincial Ireland. There are often complaints that politicians, civil servants, the mass media, and academics devote too much time to Dublin and not enough to the rest of Ireland. Ireland's industrialization and modernization over the past twenty years has been felt most strongly in Dublin and the city has grown more rapidly than anywhere else in Ireland. This growth has exacerbated administrative problems which exist elsewhere in Ireland, and also has created problems unique to Dublin. This chapter will examine Dublin's development as Ireland's primary urban center, and will then discuss the economic and social pressures which have actually created two distinct Dublins. Each Dublin has its own social needs and political priorities, and it is these needs and priorities which determine the commodities of clientelist exchanges.

Dublin's Urban Development

Historical Perspective

The city of Dublin predates the Viking incursions of the ninth century, but growth and expansion did not accelerate until the mid-seventeenth century. The population of the city was estimated at 9,000 in 1659, but had increased to 80,000 by 1700 (NESC 1981:42). This growth reflected Dublin's position as the administrative center of British occupation. British influence was felt most strongly in Dublin; outside Dublin was "beyond the pale".16 Thus, the rural perception of a Dublin turned east rather than west is not new.

Up to the mid-nineteenth century, the built-up area of Dublin was small and compact. It was largely confined to the area enclosed by the Royal and Grand canals. Although Dublin was compact, geographical distinctions between rich and poor existed. In the eighteenth century, Dublin affluence was concentrated in Mountjoy and Merrion squares, while the Liberties was overcrowded with poor families living in terrible conditions (NESC 1981:62). The introduction of the railways, omnibus services, and the construction of the harbors at Howth and Dun Laoghaire opened up the city for expansion, especially towards the south. The middle-class moved outside the canal, seeking the amenities and space that could now be combined with access to the city center. When the wealthier families moved southwards and eastwards into Ballsbridge, Ranelagh, and Rathmines, the poor expanded into the newly available residences. With insufficient resources for upkeep, the dwellings soon fell into disrepair. The introduction of electrified trams in 1896 enhanced this spread of population, but the geographical expression of social distinctions remained stark. In 1885 (NESC 1981:64), it was reported that of 54,000 families, 32,000 lived in single rooms in only one quarter of the city's houses.17

Attempts to plan Dublin's development in the early twentieth century were based on British models, with new blocks of flats in the city center and new houses on the periphery (Marino, Glasnevin, and Crumlin) for poorer families (NESC 1981:66). Urban rather than suburban residences for the poor predominated, however, until after the 1940's, and the social/geographical distinctions remain to this day, even if somewhat blurred.

One of the striking things about Dublin is the rapid population growth which has taken place in the twentieth century. In 1926, the population of Dublin was 419,000 and was growing at the rate of about 7,000 per year. Since 1961, the growth of Dublin has accelerated, from 665,556 to 735,000 in 1966 (13,900 per year); 852,000 in 1971 (23,400 per year) to the current (1981 census) population of over one million. Dublin in the 1950's was a stagnant, almost decaying, city; since then, Dublin has grown dramatically. This growth is striking because it takes place in the context of a stable national population of about three million.

Industrial Growth

Why should Dublin have grown at such a rate, especially in the last decades? In some measure, this growth has been paralleled by the growth of all urban areas. The growth rate for Ireland's twenty largest urban centers has been proportionate to that of Dublin, and, as Table 5.1 shows, there has been a steady increase in the urban, at the expense of rural areas.

TABLE 5.1
Changes in Urban and Rural Population

urban rural
1926 32% 68%
1951 42 58
1971 52 48
1981 56 44

SOURCE:CSO 1982, derived from Table D.
NOTE: urban areas are defined as having a population over 1,500.

Dublin's share (including hinterlands) of the national population has increased from 17% in 1926 to 29% in 1981, almost double the 1926 figure (CSO 1982, derived from Table 6). This growth also includes Counties which adjoin Dublin (Meath, Kildare, and Wicklow). It is worrisome since it seems that the Eastern region of the country is acting as a magnet, draining the rest of the country of the industry, services, and skilled workforce that can improve conditions elsewhere.

This general urban growth, as well as the Dublin area growth, was a by-product of the government policy of promoting industrial development. It was not foreseen, however, that it would lead to a concentration of resources in Dublin. The industrial initiatives of the 1950's had quite different goals. Industrialization was to provide jobs in rural areas; as agriculture became more capital intensive, it was hoped that there would be enough industrial jobs to absorb the excess labor. Instead, industrial development enhanced Dublin's dominant position as Ireland's commercial and administrative center.

There are a number of reasons why growth has been more rapid in Dublin than elsewhere in Ireland. Despite electrification and tax-incentives, there were (and are) many disadvantages for any firm setting up outside Dublin; the government's commitment to industrial development did not extent to a commitment to infrastructural development. Transport and communication remains poor, with little money invested in roads or telecommunications.18 For many organizations, the physical proximity to clients, suppliers, and competitors that Dublin offers is crucial, and company headquarters remain in Dublin. In addition, the huge growth in the "business" of government has led in a growth in administrative jobs in Dublin. Thus,

the Dublin region (Counties Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow) contains fifty-nine percent of the 170,000 office jobs in the State and an even higher percentage of professional and managerial office jobs. Dublin, in which are located the head offices of farming organizations, the control and decision functions of major industry, the financial centre of the State, all the Government departments and all commercial and most other State sponsored bodies, owes much of its recent growth to the expansion of the office industry and the consequent generation of employment in office activities (Bannon 1978:98).

The same researcher has argued that the recent growth of Dublin is a consequence of growth in office-type employment, which requires contacts and exchange of knowledge between both individuals and groups:

The growth of information-based occupations within all economic sectors . . . is a major cause of large scale urban expansion. . . . A 34.8 percent growth in office-type employment during the 1961-71 period goes a long way towards explaining the expansion of employment in the Dublin region and underlies much of the recent growth of the metropolitan area (Bannon 1979:258-9).

Dublin businessmen seem to agree, since Bannon found that very few of them would in interested in relocating outside Dublin, regardless of incentives (Bannon 1973:72-76). Projections suggest that the importance of office-type employment in Dublin is going to continue to increase in the future (Dublin Corporation Planning Department 1975a, 1975b, 1976).

Successive governments have never fully committed themselves to decentralization, and have never invested enough to make other centers attractive "counter-magnets". Hence, Dublin is the urban focus of Ireland; with a population of over one million, almost thirty percent of the population of Ireland lives in the Dublin area. It continues to expand at a faster rate than any other urban center (due largely to its young population), and the next largest city (Cork) has a population of only one-sixth of Dublin's (cf. Bannon 1983). It is not surprising that Dublin seems a world on its own, separate from the rest of Ireland.

Social Scarcities

Dublin's rapid growth in recent decades has created new problems and exacerbated existing ones. Although the administration of government services is uniform throughout Ireland, rapid growth and increased density create special problems in Dublin. Many problems are heightened precisely by the uniformity of administration; services in Dublin are allocated according to principles more suited to rural communities and small towns. Dublin lacks the autonomy necessary to adapt practices to changing circumstances, and many people are unable to obtain services which they need.

Social welfare is one example of the problems created simply by growth. There was a fifty percent increase in the number of people receiving state assistance in Ireland from 1966 to 1975 (NESC 1977a:139). In the same period, the number of people receiving state assistance increased more rapidly in Dublin than anywhere else. The administrative machinery has not been able to cope with the increased demand, resulting in delays and dissatisfaction. Assistance in obtaining social welfare is one "commodity" therefore that can be used in clientelist exchanges.

Employment prospects are even more affected by Dublin's growth. Although Dublin employment has increased, the increase has been in white-collar jobs, which is no help for blue-collar workers in inner Dublin. With insufficient training facilities, they cannot learn the necessary skills, and the jobs go to skilled workers from outside Dublin. Efforts to encourage appropriate industries in inner city areas have begun, but much effort will be needed to overcome previous neglect. If future Dublin growth derives from the "information industry" (as seems likely), blue-collar employment will continue to be scarce. Scarcity of jobs is a clientelist commodity throughout Ireland, but especially so in working class Dublin.

There is one scarcity that affects all residents, and profoundly alters the very structure of Dublin. This is housing. If asked what the most frequent complaint or problem is, politicians would reply without hesitation: housing. Both poor and "comfortable" suffer the same shortage, although in different ways. For the poor, the scarcity means a long wait for a house from the local authority. For wealthier couples, it means saving enough for a house deposit, finding a house that can be afforded, and then hoping that the newly created housing estate is actually completed according to developer's promises. Housing represents one of the heaviest demands on a family's income if they own a house, and one of the greatest causes of social deprivation if they are unable to afford a house.

Social scarcities result from the combination of a number of factors. The rapid population growth, due to both in-migration and natural increase, creates a concentrated demand for all services, and the administrative structures are unequal to the demand. The high fertility rate of families in Dublin, compared with the rest of Ireland and all of Europe, has led to inaccurate population projections and inadequate provision of services. The most significant factor causing the housing shortage is, however, cultural: home ownership is highly valued, and the consequent demand for land puts great strain on the local authorities' ability to keep pace with urban sprawl. The housing scarcity is particularly relevant as it is the key to understanding the social and geographical divisions of Dublin have been created and maintained. Each of these factors will be examined in turn.

Population Growth and Scarcity

Dublin's growth has been rapid, especially by European standards. In many parts of the world, such rapid urban growth has led to squatter's settlements on the outskirts of urban areas. This has not happened in Dublin; instead, there has simply been an insatiable demand for houses. Popular myth is that shortages result from the influx of people from outside Dublin looking for work. Thus, one newspaper can report that "the masses are still pouring in from the provinces looking for work and houses in the Dublin region" (Irish Times, 7 March 1979). The myth has some basis in fact, since in-migration has sometimes been quite significant. Between 1970-71, there were 11,400 newcomers to Dublin and 15,000 to the greater Dublin region. However, the average population increase from in-migration is usually only between 1,000 to 2,000 per year (NESC 1981:54). Since 1966, only 14,000 of the 154,000 population increase has been due to in-migration (NESC 1979:38). Since in-migration is not the cause of much recent growth, this partly explains the lack of squatter's settlements. Dublin's population growth is largely the result of natural increase, which means that new individuals are largely children, who are absorbed by the existing population. Between 1970 and 1975, the Eastern region accounted for 48.5% of the total natural increase in Ireland, two-thirds higher than that of the rest of Ireland (15.3 per 1,000 as compared with 9.1 per 1,000) (NESC 1979:38). Consequently, the rapid growth of Dublin has resulted from the large number of new families formed and the greater fertility of these families.

Not only is the Dublin birth rate high, but so is the birth rate of Ireland as compared with Europe. This seems surprising, since Ireland has had a stable adult population since the turn of the century. The cause of such stability has not been a low birth rate, but rather a very high emigration rate which has provided an "escape valve" for the large numbers of young who could not find employment in Ireland. Despite the zero population growth, Ireland actually has the highest fertility rate of any European country. In a recent discussion of demographic trends, it was noted that:

in Ireland the total fertility rate is 3.5 [in 1975]. The next highest is Spain at 2.7. Apart from Italy at 2.1, this rate is below 2 in all other EEC countries, Scandinavia, Austria, and Switzerland. Turning to birth and death rates, which are sensitive to population age structures, we see that whereas Ireland now has an excess of births over deaths equal to over 1 percent, both East and West Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourgh now record more deaths than births. This will soon be the case in Britain, Sweden, and before too long, in France and even Italy (Keating 1977:144).

Dublin, moreover, has the highest fertility rate in Ireland.

There is now less emigration from Ireland. Partly, this results from diminished demand for cheap labor in the traditional markets of the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition, there are now increased Employment opportunities for white-collar workers in Dublin; the 15-29 year old age group which was previously most likely to leave (Keating 1977:116) is now more heavily represented in Dublin than elsewhere in the country. It is this age group which makes the greatest demands on housing, schools, and community amenities. Keating writes:

as is obvious from our population age pyramid, we will face other problems, thrown up by the enormous bulge representing the age groups in which emigration ceases to take a major proportion of each cohort. . . . The individuals in this bulge are going to face congestion and fierce competition throughout their lives: in schools, at the point of entry to the job market, in trying to get promotion, in trying to buy houses. They face higher unemployment rates and lower growth rates of real earnings than their elders now aged 30-50 did. Coping with the problems created by this abnormal population age structure is going to transform Irish society to the core (Keating 1977:144).

No wonder that the local authority is strained to provide proper services; closing the "escape valve" of emigration has meant unexpected and unplanned for growth. For example, in 1964, the national housing projection was 8,000 houses needed per year. Yet, by 1969, the projected need was 15,000 to 17,000, and by 1976 it had risen to between 21,000 and 25,000. With such a fertile population and little out-migration (at least not out of the Dublin area), Dublin's growth will not slacken in the foreseeable future. This has caused housing shortages, and insufficient supply of many other government services, all of which, again, have become clientelist exchange commodities.

Land

One reason for current shortages has been a lack of planning. There was insufficient investment in infrastructure and inadequate attempts to plan for future demands. Thus, the housing shortage has, partly, been a shortage of serviced land (that is, with a water supply, sewerage, and so on) on which houses could be built (NIEC 1969:16-17). Since the 1970's, there has been a more concerted effort to plan for future growth.

One obstacle to providing the necessary infrastructure in urban areas has been the primacy accorded to the right of private property. This is a holdover from the tenants' rights agitation prior to independence (see Chapter Two) and the right of private property as enshrined in the 1937 Constitution. The Constitution states that "The State . . . guarantees to pass no law attempting to abolish the right of private ownership or the general right to transfer, bequeath, and inherit property" (Article 43.1.2). This provision has serious consequences for urban planning. Any land to be used for community purposes, whether for roads, schools, or public housing, must be purchased at market value or obtained via compulsory purchase. To obtain land via compulsory purchase takes years, and market value must still be paid in the end. Due to demand for land for public and private housing, the price of non-agricultural land has soared in the Dublin area. A recent report showed that while agricultural land had risen in value by 150% from 1974 to 1978, private housing land had risen about 500% in the same period. This increase is not evenly distributed, but is higher in areas where availability of suitable sites is limited and demand is high. Thus, there is only a 150% increase in the new town areas to the west of Dublin, but a 300% increase in the north suburbs and over a 600% increase in the south suburbs (Jennings 1980:25).

The problems caused by land speculation are well known; merely zoning land as residential, increases its value many fold. Yet zoning land for residential use is only the first step. The local authority must provide services (drainage, water) for the site, before house construction can begin. The cost of providing services is largely born by the community, even though the land speculator has made an enormous profit from the fact that services inevitability will be provided. Rezoning land from agricultural to housing or industrial use increases the land's value from 3,000 to 20,000 pounds per acre, according to local Labour party politicians (Irish Times, 9 March 1982). Various solutions to the high cost of obtaining land have been suggested (Committee on the Price of Building Land 1974 [Kenny Report]), but none has yet been acted upon by any government.

Home Ownership

The housing scarcity is not caused by a lack of land, but by the lack of serviced land on which houses can be built. In 1946, Dublin's land area was 7,000 hectares. By 1973, Dublin land use had expanded to 16,000 hectares and was expanding at a rate of 1,000 hectares per year (NESC 1981:46; see also Bannon 1979) The demand for land has outstripped the local authority's ability to keep pace. The shortage is aggravated by people's desire to own their own homes, rather than live in apartments or rent houses. Low density housing requires enormous tracts of land, which must serviced by water, electricity, and sewerage, and this requires large expenditures.

This emphasis on private home ownership is by no means universal. In Europe and the U.S.A., apartment rental is an important part of the housing market. In Ireland, however, home ownership is highly valued, and families invest substantial time and money in their quest for homes. Individuals reside at home, or in small rented apartments, until they can afford to buy a house, and marriage is still closely linked with house purchase (see Baker and O'Brien 1979:144-148). Many couples, when asked when they plan to marry, respond that they "expect to have the house deposit in a year". All understand that marriage must wait until the house is purchased, but that marriage will follow once the house is owned. Like the regard for private property, the desire for ownership is seen as the consequence of long years of tenancy and exploitation. Government policy recognizes that the aim of families is to own their own house, and thus the state's intervention in housing is to assist this process through

(1) the direct provision of publicly owned housing which is provided at subsidised rents to lower income groups and, in many cases, sold eventually to sitting tenants at subsidised prices, and (2) the provision of a range of financial aids to encourage private home ownership by middle and higher income groups. (Joyce and McCashin 1981:111)

The people and the state assume that the creation of a family and the creation of a private household should be as nearly simultaneous as possible.

Given the amount of time and money devoted to home ownership, it is not surprising that Ireland has the highest percentage of owner-occupation of any European country. In 1970, 69% were owner-occupiers; Luxembourg was the next closest with 57%, and the EEC average was 46% (from Curry 1981:245). By 1979, the Irish figure had increased to 76.1% (Institute of Public Administration 1984:341). While other cities conserve land through increased housing density, Dublin must provide enough land for the low density private houses. Government taxation policies actually worsen this situation, as substantial tax savings are available to anyone who buys a house. People who would not normally need a house consider it a good financial investment, especially since they see themselves as eventually needing one. Suburban Dublin is filled with single men and women who have bought a house simply for tax reasons.

There are also financial pressures which make rental an uneconomic strategy. While some apartments are rent-controlled, there are many rental properties for which rent is determined by market conditions. Tenants in uncontrolled private rentals receive no subsidies from the state. Studies have shown that these private renters pay a higher proportion of their income for housing than anyone else (Joyce and McCashin 1981:106).

It should be emphasized that private homes are not considered merely a middle-class luxury. Apartment rental is not deemed viable for lower-income public housing either. There was one attempt to provide high density public housing in Dublin in the 1960's by building large apartment blocks (Ballymun), but it was considered a social disaster by the Corporation and the residents. In a recent survey, 50% of those living in Ballymun apartments were trying to transfer to public housing elsewhere (NESC 1981:217). The local authorities now attempt only low-rise dwellings.

The demand for private houses can only be met with new houses. There is not sufficient existing housing to cater for Dublin's population increases, and much of inner Dublin's older housing is being torn down and replaced by office blocks. Various external pressures actually make it difficult for families to buy second-hand housing. In order to support the construction industry and so provide jobs, the government provides grants to new house buyers, but none to second-hand house buyers. Building societies are more likely to provide a mortgage for a new house, and will loan a higher percentage of the house purchase price if the house is new. The public sector suffers from similar difficulties, since the demand for land in the inner Dublin area makes public housing in this area an expensive luxury. A Dublin housing official remarked that the Corporation "could build two houses on the periphery for the cost of one in the inner city [because] acquisition costs were high in the city" (Irish Times, 11 Dec 1981). Local authorities cannot afford to pay market prices for land, and so must build where land is cheap: in the suburbs.

In summary, Dublin is a city in which the population is expanding, but without the infrastructure necessary to support its growth. This has made the provision of state services more difficult, and has created a demand for housing. Housing shortages exist for cultural, as well as economic and demographic, reasons. The scarcity of both public and private housing creates problems, and the provision of housing often creates new problems because the amenities needed to support newly created communities are not provided.

Dublin's Social Geography

Housing is a key to understanding Dublin because the process of obtaining housing creates two different communities. Academic studies point up something that most Dubliners know intuitively: Dublin is socially divided into distinct housing areas (NESC 1981:75-115; Hourihan 1978:314; Brady and Parker 1975). The provision of housing acts a sieve, and social categories are constituted as distinct communities. There are, for example, the newly built private housing estates on the edge of the city. These houses have, largely, been built since 1960 and are owned by young middle-class families. Then there are the Corporation estates, housing areas built by the local authority outside the inner city to provide housing for those unable to afford private housing. There is the inner city area, where urban blight and unemployment creates social trauma, and there are the older residential areas that are well established and inhabited by well-to-do families.

The most recent regional planning analysis, funded by the government, isolated six social areas, on the basis of computer analysis of the 1971 census. It examined material on social, economic, housing, and family situations, and suggested the following areas---

(1) Inner City: concentrations of unemployed, unskilled, and aged.
(2) Twilight: 1900-1949 housing, separating the inner city from the outer areas.
(3) Flatland: dominated by furnished flats; young,single, transient.
(4) Older middle-class: high status residential area; professional workers, car owners, home owners.
(5) Corporation estates: post-war municipal housing estates.
(6) New suburbs: newly built housing; privately owned, large family, fastest growing population. (NESC 1981:91-103)

The kinds of houses and the social backgrounds of the occupants in these areas are different, and so also are the issues which become attached to the clientelist system. Let us look in more detail at the different housing areas.

Private Housing Estates

One of the clearest social/geographical types consists of the private housing estates that have sprung up at the edge of the city since the 1960's. These areas include Howth, Sutton, Raheny, Baldoyle, Clontarf, and Castleknock on the Northside, while Dundrum, Stillorgan, Rathfarnham, Terenure, Clonskea, Drimnagh, Tallaght, Ballybrack, Dalkey, and Killiney are examples on the Southside. These areas have the fastest growing population (both in numbers and relative age) and it is here that community and commercial services are strained to keep pace with housing developments.

The history of private housing estates is roughly similar throughout Dublin, and can be followed from the perspective of both developer and house purchaser. From the developer's perspective, land must be bought which is serviced and zoned for residential use. Planning permission must then be sought from the local authority. If permission is granted, then construction can begin. Construction is usually on a phased basis; in this way, services can be provided only as needed and houses can be sold to generate capital for future construction. In addition to building the houses, the developer also takes responsibility for providing streets, street lights, sewerage, and open spaces. All of these will be maintained by the local authority, but only when they "take over" the estate (which they will do only when satisfied with the services they must now maintain).

The size of the development varies a great deal; some developers build only a few houses, others may develop a huge estate numbering thousands of houses (e.g., Kilnamanagh). Profit for the developer depends on a number of factors, including the labor and material costs. If he can get the land cheaply (before it is zoned for residential use or before it is serviced), he can profit from the land's increased value and avoid a costly purchase. The quicker he can sell the houses, the sooner he realizes his profit. If he can increase the housing density above the level approved by the local authority, he is decreasing the amount he has spent, per house, for the land. Finally, the longer he puts off installing street lights, roads, and open spaces, the longer he has use of his scarce capital.

All of these sources of potential profit for the developer put him in conflict with the house purchasers. The owner-to-be, while the developer is building, has been saving money for a deposit with the building society that will provide the mortgage. The house is purchased before it is completed, and, from this point on, the owner is trying to get the developers to finish off their work. They may still have to finish some minor work on the house, or they may still have to pave the road outside the house. Often, the last thing to be done is to landscape the open space as a park; for years, that open space may be the developer's garbage dump. The owner also has to watch the new houses being built around him to make sure that the developer is only putting in as many houses as applied for. Is the promised open space going to remain one large area that can be used as a park, or is it going to be divided into small and unusable plots scattered around the estate? The owner can never be sure whether he has bought his house from a "good" developer who will keep his promises, or a "bad" one who will build a poor quality house and leave the estate unfinished.

An issue that arises in developer/owner conflicts is the position of the local authority. Because the developer has lodged a planning permission with the local authority, the developer has a legal obligation to fulfil the terms of the permission. If he doesn't, the local authority can take him to court and, if necessary, the developer will forfeit the bond he has given the local authority. In the past, however, the bond was not sufficient deterrent, given the large profits possible. Also, the developers always seemed able to hold up law proceedings for years; this benefited the developer simply because it meant he could use the money committed to open spaces for other projects. In recent years, the legal and financial sanctions available to local authorities have improved, but politicians still find themselves dealing with complaints about developers.

Once the owners have sorted out whatever difficulties they might have with developers, they find that other problems remain. These are usually problems associated with social and community services. The bus service might not have been extended to get to the new estate; there may be no sign of telephones being installed; there may be no shops in the area; or the local school has not yet been built. Both politicians and administrators in the local authority come under community pressure to provide, or force others to provide, the necessary community and commercial services. Since the local authority is the planning agency, residents consider it responsible for all services in the community.

The planning authority, however, has a major problem; while it may have allotted space for shops, churches, schools, and so forth, it cannot force or compel construction. It cannot dictate when a store will be built. As previously noted, private land ownership carries privileges which the planning authority cannot easily infringe upon:

Because of the primacy accorded to ownership rights, planning is in practice of a passive rather than an active nature. It indicates to owners what they may do with their land and it tells them what they may not do. It does not attempt to instruct them what they must do. (Baker and O'Brien 1979:153)

Commercial concerns can wait until the profit potential is great enough to justify construction, and the planning authorities are relatively helpless.19 Further, they can not force other government agencies to install the schools, community centers, street lights, or bus services that are needed and planned for. Each of these services is provided by a different organization, each with its own internal priorities. Services are provided piecemeal, and the local authority is thus expected to achieve results beyond their power or authority.

The social fabric of these estates is as different from other parts of Dublin as the physical fabric. The housing estates are composed of white-collar workers who are all recently married and with young families. It is the large family size and the preponderance of young children which puts such great pressure on specialized facilities such as schools, community centers, and parks. There will be some skilled working-class families, but not many. It is not likely there will be public housing in the immediate vicinity; the purchase price of the house would have diminished if there had been.

Corporation Estates

In contrast, residents of Corporation estates find themselves dealing with politicians long before they actually have a house. Anyone who resides in the local authority area and cannot afford to buy a house can apply to the local authority to be housed. If he qualifies, he is eligible for a house as one becomes available. He will pay very little rent (calculated on the basis of his income), and has the option of eventually buying the house from the local authority if he wishes. Like the private housing estates, the post-1940's Corporation estates tend to be clustered together, on the fringes of the 1940 urban boundary: Ballyfermot, Cabra, Finglas, Crumlin, Coolock, and Kimmage are examples. There is a preponderance of skilled and semi-skilled workers (especially factory workers, NESC 1981:222), and a lack of professional and commercial workers. This is partially due to the stigma which attaches to living in public housing. In some countries (e.g., Sweden and Denmark) public housing is sought by all; it carries no social stigma. Public housing in Ireland is only for those who cannot afford any other option. It is an admission of economic and social inadequacy.20

Corporation renters have the option to buy out their house and so eventually own it; many of the families have been exercising that option. A recent survey found that 39.3% of Corporation renters had bought out their tenancy (NESC 1981:230).21 The Corporation housing estates, in conjunction with the new private housing estates, account for most of the post-1966 growth areas.

A principal problem facing most people living in Corporation areas is resolved simply by their presence on the estate -- the long wait to get a house. In 1979, the waiting list was over 7,000 families, and new families are added on as quickly as families on the list are housed. Some of the families on the waiting list come from Corporation estates; these are second generation residents, seeking a house of their own. But applicants can come from anywhere in the city. A recent survey of inner city residents showed that 31% of the private renters had applied for a Corporation house, and 31% of the inner city Corporation tenants had applied for transfers to Corporation housing elsewhere (NESC 1981:158). Overcrowding accounts for much of the need for transfers (NESC 1981:209). Assistance in obtaining public housing is a crucial brokerage commodity in these areas, and no other single problem is more frequently raised with politicians.

Once in the Corporation estates, there are a number of problems which may emerge, due to the social and economic deprivation which they, like inner city residents, may suffer. A higher percentage of Corporation estate occupants need jobs, for example, since they are less likely to have the necessary skills to get white-collar or technologically sophisticated jobs. They are also more likely to need social welfare assistance and free medical assistance. They also need repairs on their Corporation house from time to time. People's dependence on state assistance is great, and the bureaucracy's failure to keep pace with increased demand for assistance is keenly felt in these areas.

All the problems of piecemeal delivery of services discussed for the private estates also apply to Corporation estates. They, like the private estates, find that shops, churches, schools, and other amenities and services are very slow to arrive. The effects are likely to be far worse in these estates however, due to economic deprivation. They are not able to get into their car to drive to a shopping center elsewhere, nor are they able to use the office phone for personal purposes. These Corporation estates are often quite dismal places. The houses are similar and the layout of the estate is visually dull. Even now, there are housing estates that still suffer social deprivation from lack of community amenities, although current housing estates are being built in a far more integrated fashion with services and amenities arriving closer to the time the residents themselves arrive (e.g., Darndale in north Dublin).

The Inner City and Flatland

In addition to private and Corporation housing estates, there is one other distinctive social area. Dublin, like so many cities, has an inner city area which is socially and economically deprived. Many of the jobs in the inner city have been lost as mechanization has decreased jobs in the docks and factories. New employment is usually white collar and thus unavailable to the inner city unemployed. Those who can afford to move to the suburbs have already moved, leaving the elderly and low income families within the canal ring. Numerous studies have emphasized the educational, economic, housing, and employment deprivation of the inner city area (see Joyce and McCashin 1981:88-89). Those that remain in the inner city are either waiting to get out, or being forced out by the encroaching office blocks. The scarcity and cost of land in the inner city means that decent public housing can only be obtained by moving to distant suburbs.

Some redevelopment has taken place in the inner city in the last few years. This is low density public housing and, while the new schemes have been popular, only a small amount of the housing need can be met. In addition, there has been some movement back into the inner city by middle-class home owners. Although "gentrification" has been patchy, it has halted some inner city decline. Much of inner Dublin, however, remains office blocks and derelict housing.

The inner city shares with "flatland" (just inside and outside the canal ring in NESC area three) the rental population of Dublin. Some flat renters either do not wish to own a house yet or they live in rent controlled apartments that are inexpensive. Often, those who have recently come to Dublin to take white-collar jobs in the civil service, banks, or other large organization live in rental accommodation. They are renting for only a few years; soon they get married or decide to invest in a house. They have few contacts with others in the community, and place few demands on politicians or the state. As a transient population, they are largely ignored.

However, there are others who live in flats because they have little choice. Many people can neither buy a house privately nor rent a house from the local authority simply because access to the "housing sectors" in based on different criteria. Access to the private housing sector is dependent on getting a mortgage from a building society, and this involves financial criteria (yearly income, job security, and so forth). Access to the public housing sector is dependent on the priority given one's application, and this involves social criteria (size of family, condition of dwelling, overcrowding, medical condition, and so forth). It is possible not to have the money for a private house, but also not meet the local authority criteria for public housing. Single individuals, and families with few or no children are often excluded on both sides. They have little choice but to rent or live with family. Since there is no state assistance for private renters, they pay more for their rented flat than others pay for public or privately owned housing. This naturally makes it more difficult to save enough money to get a mortgage from a building society and escape the rental trap.

Those who rent privately because of an inability to obtain other housing, and those in public housing in the inner city area, form a social group not unlike those in public housing in Corporation housing areas. A major concern is obtaining public housing, as well as jobs and social welfare assistance. They thus make the same kinds of demands on politicians, and, if anything, their deprivation is greater.

Housing and Social Class

The implication of previous descriptions is that social class is linked with both residential area and also housing situation. The blunt statement that working class families live in public housing in Corporation housing estates, and and middle class families own their own house and live, separately, in private housing estates, is, broadly speaking, accurate. In a recent study, sixty-eight to eighty-six percent of various middle-class families owned their own houses (outright or mortgaged), while only fifty-four to fifty-nine percent of working-class families owned houses (Rottman, et. al. 1982:94).22 While it is difficult for poorer families to afford a house, there are also strong institutional pressures which segregate the two groups. When building societies use income to determine the amount they loan, they also take into consideration future income stability. Manual workers often do not have the guaranteed salary growth of non-manual workers, and a significant amount of their income may be derived from over-time, which the building society ignores in their calculation of yearly income (Joyce and McCashin 1981:61). The disparity between the two groups is emphasized and perpetuated, rather than minimized and overcome.

Thus, it begins to become clear how social area, social class, and housing condition overlap one another. As one author noted,

the barriers against access to owner-occupation and the practice of building separate estates of public and private housing leads to a definite pattern of social class segregation by areas. The major cities are clearly segregated into social class categories with large-scale municipal housing differentiated from other housing, and containing low income households and concentrations of unemployment, poverty and other forms of deprivation. (Joyce and McCashin 1981:61)

Housing pressures dictate that social distinctions find a geographical expression. Those who must depend on public housing are from specific social backgrounds and find themselves living in specific geographical areas. Similarly, those who can afford private housing come from quite different backgrounds and live in quite different areas.

The two groups also interact with the state in different ways. This is clear even with regard to obtaining housing. State policy attempts to assist people to buy their own house if at all possible. The family exercises their own choice about where and what kind of house is bought, and state intervention is in the form of tax relief and subsidies. People who cannot afford to buy a house on their own will be provided with subsidised housing. Here, however, individuals' choices become restricted as they become dependent on bureaucratic procedures. The local authority makes a house available, eventually, but the individual has little choice about where that house is, what it looks like, or even how many rooms it has. For the middle class purchasers of private houses, state intervention maximizes individual choice; for working class public renters, state intervention diminishes individual choice and increases dependency. The two groups have very different interactions with the state, and one would presume, different perceptions of the state.

Thus, Dublin's growth in the past twenty years has created new scarcities and exaggerated existing ones. The provision of various state services are clientelist commodities everywhere in Ireland, but especially in Dublin, where population growth has outstripped the bureaucracy's ability to supply services. One aspect of Dublin's growth has been a housing scarcity, which has served to create two Dublins. These two Dublins are geographically distinct, and each has their own social and economic needs. In middle-class Dublin, people are concerned with planning disputes, unfinished housing estates, and the provision of community amenities. In working-class Dublin, people are concerned with the provision of public housing, social welfare assistance, and jobs. The pattern of state intervention also varies in the two different communities, so it might also be expected that attitudes regarding how state assistance is best obtained also vary.


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