The 1925 Dublin Civic Survey was no ersatz municipal document. It avers ‘Housing in Dublin today… is more than a problem – it is a tragedy. Its conditions cause either a rapid or a slow death. Rapid when the houses fall on their tenants… slow, when they remain standing dens of insanitation’. Its author, Patrick Abercrombie, was an advocate of the ‘garden suburbs’ movement, arguing for rehousing in more salubrious environments in the city’s hinterland. The existing system was mired in corruption – the condemning and demolition of slum tenements commanded high rates of compensation for landlords, effectively rewarding their neglect: a 1914 Inquiry discovered 16 Dublin city councillors who were slum landlords. For all the impassioned rhetoric, little was immediately achieved since the newly fledged Sinn Féin government lacked the budget for a substantial publicly funded rehousing programme. Most public housing constructed in the 1920s would be large, and priced beyond the means of tenement-dwellers.
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