Fourteen Dublin Corporation members own tenement houses
A page from the report showing the miserable conditions of the Dublin slums. The photographs included in the report were taken by John Cooke and W.J. Joyce. Photo: South Dublin County Libraries

Fourteen Dublin Corporation members own tenement houses

Dublin Housing Inquiry reveals scandal at the heart of Dublin’s slums

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Published: 18 February 2014

The report of the Dublin Housing Inquiry has revealed that 14 sitting members of Dublin Corporation own tenement houses in the city.

Several members of the Corporation own more than a dozen houses each, while ten own up to three houses each.

Dr Jacinta Prunty from NUIM considers the findings of the 1914 Housing report. (Holding image: Dublin City Public Libraries)

One member, Alderman Corrigan, owns 19 tenement houses and a further 13 smaller houses across the city. Several of these houses - all of which are rented out - are classed as being unfit for human habitation and incapable of being rendered fit for such habitation.

Alderman Corrigan, as well as other members of the Corporation, also received rebate of taxes despite the fact that the houses do not meet basic living standards. In two instances, Alderman Corrigan received rebates on properties despite the fact that the sanitary sub-officer has declined to certify them as fit for a rebate.

In one of the houses, the drains are not properly trapped or ventilated and the house is filthy; in the other there are no toilet facilities in the house or in the backyard and tenants are forced to go to their neighbours houses to use the toilet.

The ruling of non-certification was overturned by Sir Charles Cameron, the Head of the Public Health Department of Dublin Corporation, despite the fact that Alderman Corrigan made no attempt to improve the facilities in the houses in question.

More images from the report illustrating the squalor of the Dublin city tenements. Click on any of the images to view the report in full in PDF format. (Images: South Dublin County Libraries)

The report, completed by a departmental committee appointed by the Local Government Board of Ireland, was presented to Parliament today having been initiated following the collapse of two tenement buildings on Church Street on 2 September 1913. Seven people - including three children - died in the incident.

Throughout, the report is clear in its opinion that until the housing problem is dealt with there will be no adequate reduction in Dublin’s ‘heavy’ death rate.

The report recommends that the current stock of third-class tenement houses should be completely cleared away and that new dwellings should be provided before the removal of tenants. These new houses should be built both within city limits, and on 'virgin soil' on the outskirts of the city.

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