Speech at a meeting with Clúid Housing Speech at a meeting with Clúid Housing
You are all most welcome today to Áras an Uachtaráin. I am delighted to have this opportunity to mark the twenty fifth anniversary of an organisation that has contributed so much to the provision of homes and indeed a community life for so many Irish citizens who find themselves in need of assistance or support in securing a place they can call home. Indeed, the role of Clúid Housing and the voluntary housing sector in general play an absolutely integral part in our social housing delivery and I want to pay tribute to you all for your work and your dedication and commitment.
The word ‘Clúid’ means, of course, ‘the seat beside the fire’ – the seat that was traditionally offered to guests as a sign they were welcome and their needs would be taken care of. It is this image that lies at the heart of Clúid, this sentiment that was the founding stone on which Clúid was built a quarter of a century ago.
When we, as a society, ensure that someone has the security of a home and the support of a community we are ensuring that they feel welcome members of our society; fellow citizens who have a right to participate, to have a voice and to know that voice will be heard. Indeed, a sense of belonging is a profound human need and one that arises from a feeling of connectedness to a place and to the daily interactions that shape that place.
For many years, the provision of institutional care was seen as an indication of a society that valued its vulnerable people. In recent years, however, we have begun to focus on the many human needs that must be met if any society can claim to be a truly just and inclusive one; a society which does not relegate fundamental needs such as respect, self-worth, autonomy and the right to contribute to society and community life to the priorities of the economic market. There can be no doubt that Clúid represents a significant resource of that we can be very proud and of which stands as a symbol of a society which cares about all of its people.
When we safeguard the right of elderly citizens to remain integrated and involved members of a community, when we ensure citizens living with disabilities are enabled to live with independence and dignity, when we provide long term emigrants who now wish to spend their later years in the country they have always regarded as home with security and a sense of kinship, we are telling those fellow citizens that they belong. We are recognising their social right, not just to a space of security, but to the relationships, intimacies and responsibilities that define true citizenship and place us within a wider national community – a common home.
Across the twenty five years since its foundation, Clúid has been providing that welcome to the many citizens who without your generous work would find themselves being placed outside of that community reach – moving prematurely into nursing homes, or rearing their families in a series of temporary forms of accommodation, or being forced to live reduced and dependent lives, or returning to Ireland to find it is not, after all, a place they can call home.
Clúid’s stated mission is that of:
“providing quality housing and services to enable people to create homes and thriving communities.”
and to date Cluid’s 6,700 properties have provided homes and community to over 17,000 people. That is an achievement of which you can be very proud indeed and for which we, as a nation, owe you a great debt of gratitude.
I know that, as well as working with developers, Clúid also has an impressive track record in designing and building their own housing schemes. In addition, Clúid’s regeneration projects with local authorities and other imaginative projects such as the redevelopment of the St Mary’s Mansions complex in Dublin’s North Inner City are inspiring examples of the will to constantly re-imagine, regenerate and evolve in order to adapt to the needs of an ever changing society that defines truly successful communities.
By reclaiming and re-inventing unused or neglected spaces and transforming them into public spaces of inclusive, supportive and participative community, Clúid has created a profound imprint on our society’s landscape and enable many people to look to a future of hope and inclusion.
I am glad that so many Clúid tenants are here today and I know you will endorse the fact that Clúid are also great empowerers, You, more than anyone, will know how important it is that those who seek assistance in sourcing suitable homes are not relegated to the role of passive participants, who are defined solely by their vulnerabilities and find their dependency being reinforced by the solutions so often imposed on them. You do not want solutions that deny you a voice, an involvement, opportunities to engage with others and to use and offer your skills and experience to society. Clúid understands that and recognises the importance of a home as not just a physical place of shelter but as a space of intimacy, memories, dreams, family relationships and community connections.
Today Clúid is the largest Approved Housing Body in Ireland, with 200 highly qualified and professional staff, with a well-established reputation for providing good quality, good value housing for families, single persons, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Equally importantly, they have proven that they are an organisation that has a generous instinct to reach out to others, respect their essential dignity and empower them to have a voice in society. There can be no doubt that the work Clúid does plays a hugely important role in the creation of a truly democratic society.
Clúid is founded on important values - a sense of compassion, care and empathy; and it has grown and developed through its own vision for positive change, a vision that was and is shared by all those involved in its creation. Today, you embrace all members of the community, including those who are most vulnerable or excluded, and this allows new futures to be imagined and new possibilities to be realised.
I thank you for that work. I also thank your tenants whose determination to be proactive and participative citizens, and real understanding of the importance of playing their role in the creation of inclusive, thriving communities are the kind of citizens who will help to build a society of which we can be proud.
I thank Aileen Lee for organising the event, to the Board members who are drawn from diverse backgrounds and bring a broad range of experience and skills to their deliberations, to Brian O’Gorman your CEO, and I understand the first employee of Clúid, and to his team who are so committed in the work that they do.