SIPTU proposals to alleviate the housing crisis were the focus of lively debate at a meeting in the Ardboyne Hotel, Navan, county Meath, last-night (Wednesday, 18th February). Among the options presented for consideration to an audience of local SIPTU members, county councillors and members of the public was the introduction of rent controls, repair of local authority housing stock and direct State funding of house building. Housing expert and lecturer in political geography at Maynooth University, Rory Hearne, addressed the event organised by the SIPTU Meath District Council. He said: “At the current rate of housing construction the local authority housing lists will not be dealt with until 2038. An obvious solution is to build more social housing which would create employment, boost growth, reduce welfare spending and bring in tax as well as provide people with homes.” He added: “If there is the popular will and political will we can solve the housing crisis.” SIPTU Meath District Council Secretary, John Regan, said: “The meeting was very successful in bringing to the fore serious debate on both short term and long term solutions to the housing crisis." He added: “We welcome that fact that several local councillors commended SIPTU on raising the debate locally on this issue. SIPTU representatives have also been invited by the local council to attend a meeting of its Housing Committee where the crisis will be discussed. It is hoped that this is the start of a process which will see our members concerns in this area addressed and serious consideration given to possible policy solutions to the crisis that are emerging from the debate within SIPTU on this issue.” SIPTU is currently conducting a survey of housing needs among its membership in order to better inform its debate on the union’s ‘Discussion paper on Ireland’s Housing Crisis’.