Every month we introduce you to one of the people leading the work of our member organisations. In this edition, we head to Ireland to introduce you to the CEO of our member organisation Co-operative Housing Ireland, Kieron Brennan.
Co-operative Housing Ireland ID
- I would describe Co-operative Housing Ireland in 10 words as Ireland’s national federation representing, promoting and developing co-operative housing.
- Our key objective is to give as many people as possible the chance to meet their own housing needs in places that are right for them.
- Apart from housing provision, our mission is provide everyone with the opportunity to participate in decisions that matter to them and to their communities.
- We are members of Housing Europe because we benefit hugely from learning about the experiences, innovation and knowledge of our colleagues across the continent.
As co-operators we naturally believe that we can achieve more working together than we can on our own. Decisions are made in Brussels that have important consequences for families and communities across Europe and we find that Housing Europe is hugely effective in making heard the voices of housing providers and the people who use their services.
- Housing is considered to be in Ireland sacred! Huge value is placed on the social importance of the family home. Our recent Constitutional Convention recommended explicitly naming a right to housing in the constitution.
At the same time, the last few years have seen a massive decrease in the numbers of homes provided for our growing population. We have an enormous challenge ahead to catch up with demand.
- Our key partners in the country are... We’re lucky enough to work in a number of different areas of activity and benefit from really constructive partnerships.
Local and national government are key partners in supporting new housing provision and there’s a real appetite in those sectors at the moment to look different ways of doing things.
Our fellow members of Housing Europe, the Irish Council for Social Housing, are obviously key partners and we work closely together to advance the interests of the sector and of the residents of social housing.
As a co-operative body, we work strongly alongside other co-operative sectors including the huge agricultural co-op and credit union movements. We’re working hard to promote the co-operative as a different way of doing business.
- Our main housing policy priority at the moment is Growth. Ireland is in the midst of a significant housing crisis that has built up over a number of years. Our top priority has to be delivering the new homes that families across the country desperately need.
- The major challenge for the country today is making things happen. For the last five years there’s been very little activity in terms of new housing provision.
That has meant there’s been a lot of skills lost both in terms of direct construction knowledge, but also in terms of the capacity of government, housing bodies and finance providers to make the quick decisions needed to make things get off the ground.
The new housing strategy announced by the Irish Government last year needs to have as its focus the creation of a new policy framework that facilitates delivery a lot more effectively into the future.
- I start my working day in the normal way! Checking emails, meeting with colleagues, keeping an eye on developments in the news and planning the day ahead.
- After leaving the office I head home to family. I have two children preparing for state exams at the moment, so I try to keep things calm! I’m a keen follower of my local football team, St Patrick’s Athletic, and try to get to matches as often as possible. I keep active in the local community and have recently agreed to become chair for a new co-operative delivering community development services in Dublin.
- Currently I am reading... Citrine’s ‘ABC of Chairmanship’ which is really helpful in supporting me in the new role I’ve taken on as chair of the community co-op. For pleasure I’m reading Donal Kagan’s ‘The Fall of the Athenian Empire’, part of a history series that I’m hugely enjoying.
- ... while listening to Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs – it’s an eclectic mix of songs from the last 50 years that comes on a handy app and was given to me as a gift by a former colleague.
- I move around by... I’d love to say bus and tram, but the number of meetings I attend and their geographic spread mean that I’m reliant on the car.
- I prefer having on my table a lot! I like a glass of wine and I enjoy a range of foods, simple cooking most of all.