Search icon


03rd Jan 2018

RTÉ Airing ‘Celebrity Home of The Year’ Last Night In The Midst of a Homelessness Crisis Highlights a Massive Disconnect

James Fenton

Last night, as the first whistles of Storm Eleanor turned into deafening howls, it was hard not to think of those sleeping rough as Ireland’s homelessness crisis tightens its grip. 

As the gales of one of the strongest storms in recent years got louder, the volume would have been turned up on TV sets as people attempted to drown out the noise of the swirling wind and rain. 

There was a Love/Hate star making her first appearance on BBC’s EastendersCelebrity Big Brother made a return, while RTÉ offered a choice between a documentary on jockey AP McCoy and a special celebrity edition of Home Of The Year

While all this was going on, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive was tweeting messages urging people to report sightings of anyone sleeping rough in the capital.

While homeless groups in Dublin, Galway, Cork and other towns and cities around the country were working tirelessly ensuring that no one was left shivering with the wet and cold on our streets, our public broadcaster was airing a programme dedicated to the extravagant homes of Senator David Norris, radio presenter Eoghan McDermott and broadcaster Lorraine Keane, among others. 

It got me thinking – Ireland is in the midst of a full-on homelessness crisis that is showing very little sign of letting up. Yet programming like this shows a massive disconnect. 

Of course, RTÉ was just doing what TV stations have been doing for years. Offering viewers an outlet of escapism and an aspirational glimpse at how the other half live. Here at Lovin, we do it ourselves with our regular ‘property-porn’ style pieces. There has always been an interest in the ‘through the keyhole’ format. But does a government-funded body have a responsibility to think twice about airing shows like Celebrity Home Of The Year on primetime TV? 

Our property section is also jam-packed with grim apartments such as these, indicative of why we have a homelessness problem – the unattainable costs of buying and renting in this country.

Screen Shot 2018 01 03 At 15 42 42

Six days before Christmas, the state broadcaster received praise in many quarters for airing The Big Picture, an eye-opening look at a day in the life of several homeless people on the streets of Dublin. It was followed by an excellent edition of Claire Byrne Live during which Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy came face to face with some of those affected by homelessness in this country. 

However, the homes featured on shows such as Celebrity Homes Of The Year are out of reach for the vast majority of the country let alone those who are currently sleeping rough without a steady income.  

The country would be better served seeing how mothers and fathers are managing the herculean task of making homes for their children out of pokey hotel rooms. Homes which require the difficult task of explaining how exactly Santa Claus is going to get in and deliver their presents. 

This latest homelessness crisis has been building for years and sadly it looks like it is going to get worse before it gets better. Perhaps it’s time RTÉ put all formats of Home Of The Year on the shelf until things start looking up? 

READ NEXT: Lots Of People Are Saying The Same Thing About Storm Eleanor