From the Archives - February 1922
In February 1922, the newly endorsed Provisional Government, with Arthur Griffiths as President, was in its very early days of administration. Eamon de Valera, and other anti-Treatyites, had withdrawn from the Dáil. While juggling the new political reality, probably the most critical problem facing the country’s first Government was the housing crisis, especially in urban areas. One of their first actions was to set aside one million pounds to encourage house-building. This sum is equivalent to over €72.5 million in today’s purchasing power. Inflation was also a growing problem facing the new politicians, all of whom lacked experience of being in government.
The Urban District Councils in what is now Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown were very aware of these problems and developments at a national level, and this is reflected in the Minutes of two of the local Townships – Blackrock and Dún Laoghaire, generally the two most active UDCs, holding more than one meeting each month.
Dún Laoghaire’s Minutes for their meeting on 7th February 1922, refer to the money set aside by the Government for housing, and their making an application to Government for £230,000 – an enormous sum for one small Township – for the improvement of working-class dwellings. Blackrock – at their meeting on 1st February 1922 – focused on price increases and went further, with a direct appeal to purveyors in the town:
That this Council on behalf of the Ratepayers generally and especially on behalf of the wage-earning community, protests against profiteering by local traders in foodstuffs, particularly in respect of milk, butter, vegetables and meat.
Prices charged by owners of licensed premises and elsewhere for whiskey and stout are grossly excessive and called for special examination.
That this conspiracy of greed, organized by wholesale and retail dealers, including owners of grazing lands is responsible, mainly if not entirely, for the labour troubles which at this critical moment menace the existence of the Free State Government.
Strong words but unfortunately there is no indication how, or if, the Council planned to take matters further. What is most interesting is how key issues affecting daily life have changed so little in the County in the hundred years which have intervened, with Housing and Inflation continuing as headline news today.