It is that time of the year again. Student Union officials are handing out flyers at Luas stops asking commuters to give incoming Freshmen a room Trinity’s Provost has been virtue signalling from her mansion at the bottom of Grafton Street. Not enough is being done to house Trinity students, she says.
State broadcaster RTE is playing its part. Ukrainian students here as part of the Erasmus programme have, along with their grannies, to vacate student accommodation to make way for those Ukrainian Erasmus students and other Ukrainians who are here starting degrees on our dime. Not enough is being done to house them.
Though our hearts are supposed to bleed for them as we answer Trinity’s Provost’s call to house her lefty students, there are some flies in the ointment that deserve consideration. Five years ago, Katie Ascough, then president of UCD Students’ Union, was doing her thing, inspecting hovels students were expected to live in and, like today’s Trinity Provost in her Grafton St mansion, asking Dubliners to house her charges.
Fair enough you say but, just two months later, in October 2017, those same students, for whom our hearts are supposed to bleed, were impeaching Ascough, not for her efforts to secure them accommodation but for her reluctance to break the law of the land.
Then there are other student union leaders from times gone by who have made it big by playing the Irish game. How many students are RTE’s Joe Duffy and Áine Lawlor billeting? How about Labour Party trust fund babe Ivana Bacik or that Trinity tattooed senator Lynn Ruane? How many students are kipping on their spare couches or do their privileged status make them exempt? How about that Higgins fellow and his big house up in the Park? Surely Trinity students could put that and nearby Farmleigh House to better use than giving Leo Varadkar and his bedmates a subsidised playpen?
And where should we stand on diversity? Could those of us with spare bedrooms and spare couches give them to Irish Catholic or Protestant students, or would that make us guilty of one or other of the crimes Trinity’s Antifa students and their over paid senators get so worked up about?
Although Dublin’s hotels would make for good student billeting, the State funded NGO industry catering to our economic migrants have that one sewn up. The only hope, it seems, is to either terrorise or shame the elderly into opening their doors to the diverse and multicultural students of Trinity, UCD, DCU as well, presumably, the various language schools that economic migrants use to secure a visa here.
There is, of course, a disparity here. Some of us have property that others have a need for. But many of us do not need the headaches that come with opening our doors to dodgy folk. And nor, of course, would we wish to damage the property renting empires of some of our more promising TDs and senators or, indeed, to stop the self righteous rantings of Sinn Fein TDs, some of whom were previously pulled up for not housing their own homeless brothers.
But, all of that said, property owners still have rights, one of them being the right to privacy. And, though many property holders may be prepared to help, that should be on our terms and not those of Joe Duffy, Ivana Bacik, the Ukrainian Embassy or Trinity’s Provost. If they bring nothing to the party, they should just shut up, for a change. If decent students, like the now graduated Katie Ascough, need to be housed then that should be discussed on terms acceptable to all sides and without the input of those who leech off this annual crisis.