“Marxist” TDs say the State must “override private property rights” to fix housing

Self-described Marxist TDs Richard-Boyd Barrett and Paul Murphy have called for the state to “override private property rights” to fix the housing crisis.

At least they’re consistent, right?


Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, Deputy Richard Boyd-Barrett went on a tirade about a new bill laying out the necessity of a “right to housing,” which he believes is only being stopped by those dastardly private property rights in the Constitution.

“This Bill seeks to delimit the protections given to private property in favour of the common good, which does allow, even under our Constitution, the Government to override private property rights,” he said.

“However, it does not define clearly what the common good is and, specifically, it does not include in it the right to housing as a clear part of the common good and give it priority. This is what we are setting out to do.

“I will not read all the wording but the Bill states: The State, in particular, recognises the common good as including the right to secure, affordable, dignified housing, appropriate to need, for all the residents of Ireland and shall guarantee this right through its laws, policies and the prioritisation of resources.

“It goes on to state that we will delimit the right to private property in this regard. Why is this necessary? Why did the Government, or the two major parties in government, oppose it on the previous occasion? The Green Party supported it so it will be interesting to see whether it is consistent with its previous position on trying to get the Bill passed into law to get a referendum so we can insert this right.”

Immediately after, he was backed up by his colleague Paul Murphy, who said:

“The Government, for years, has hidden behind the Constitution. It has hidden its class interest, the class interest of those it represents, behind the Constitution or has attempted to do so.”

These lads are one bad day away from pulling a Scooby Doo villain monologue: “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for that meddling Constitution and its damn property rights.”

Jokes aside, what would this idea mean in practice? Well, People Before Profit explain in their 2020 Election Manifesto under Housing:

“Use Compulsory Purchase Orders: In some cases a levy will not be enough. If the public good demands it, the state should be able to use a CPO to attain appropriate accommodation.”

Now, at first glance this might seem reasonable to some. After all, Ireland’s housing crisis is crippling, and wouldn’t it be so easy to find someone with two homes and give it to somebody else who has none? Does someone living in an 18 bedroom mansion need all those rooms? Think of all the homeless people you could house in a large house like that.

There’s just one problem with this, however: why would we assume a measure like this would stop at only the top 1% richest people in society? The right to private property would be abolished altogether, for everyone. Not just rich people. You, reading this, would be included in this removal of rights.

What this effectively would mean, if it was ever to pass, is that you have no actual right to the property you own. If the State deemed it necessary, your house, or a part of it, could be seized, and you would have absolutely no legal recourse or constitutional right to object, as long as “the public good” demanded it.

But who decides what the public good is? Well, the government, of course. And if the last year with covid-19 has taught us anything, allowing the State to suspend our fundamental rights for the sake of the “public good” has worked out great, hasn’t it?

As crazy as that is, though, think about this in the context of another PBP policy:

“We believe that Europe should open its borders. With 500 million people, Europe can easily cope with two million refugees. Europe should open its borders and Ireland has a duty to welcome a proportional share of refugees from war, oppression, persecution and other inhuman conditions, for the creation of which, Western imperialism bears a heavy responsibility. At present this is not the case for Europe or Ireland. We call for the EU and our own government to do much more in this regard.

[We would] End Deportations – Legalise Undocumented Migrants: We support the call to normalise the undocumented Irish in the USA, but this must go both ways. We are for the normalisation (i.e. ’legalisation’) of undocumented migrants here in Ireland too. We oppose all deportations either from Ireland or the USA.”

So, in other words, if the Trotskyites got their way, the State would be obliged by law to provide a house for anyone on the island of Ireland – citizen or non-citizen, legal or illegal. And they want Europe to “open the borders,” allowing millions of new entries to flood in.

We can’t even house the people we have now, so it’s not a great stretch to imagine that Comrade Richard Boyd-Barrett as Taoiseach would issue a new dictum to seize the guest room of your house and give it to, say, an illegal immigrant from Albania, who happens to be addicted to heroin (which wouldn’t be a problem for Richard, because PBP also wants to legalise all drugs as a policy). Does that sound good to you?


These same parties apparently think people – both biological women and transgender individuals – have a near-unlimited right to abortion, saying that: People Before Profit have always stood for every pregnant person to have the right to choose what they do with their own body.” They believe that illegal immigrants have a right to enter the country. But apparently you don’t have a right to the home or property you paid for and bought legally. Again, at least they’re following Marxist theory to the letter.

Look; we all recognise that housing is a major, major issue in Ireland. We all recognise the dire need to fix the crisis. But the so-called solutions from the far left are the equivalent of trying to remove a fly from your forehead with an axe. These proposals are utterly mental.

The only thing people like Boyd-Barrett and Murphy have demonstrated effectively is that the Irish education system is badly lacking, particularly in the area of civics and understanding what a “right” actually is.

Something that is finite can never be a right. Rights are things you’re born with, like your life and your ability to speak – not houses, or ginger ale, or Toyota Corollas. Rights are a way of saying “The government will not take away your life that you were born with, we won’t take away your ability to speak, or think, or own possessions. What you already have, you can keep.” They’re not a wishlist where you can say “I have a right to all these items.” This is civics 101. Nobody can give you rights – they can only protect what you already have.

If you think the housing crisis in Ireland couldn’t get worse, put socialist politicians behind the wheel at the next election and watch the current crisis start to look like a picnic by comparison.

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