Dispute over demand for housing
A dispute has broken out over how many houses are needed in the next few years to meet demand from families.
State body the Housing Agency has questioned calculations by a leading think tank concluding that we needed 90,000 housing units over the next seven years, mostly in Dublin.
The estimate came from the Economic and Social Research Institute, which said we need to build 12,500 housing units a year, with 86pc of these needed on the east coast.
Dr Edgar Morgenroth of the ESRI said there was a danger of chronic housing shortages without a mini-building boom.
But the Housing Agency says an earlier detailed study it did indicates that we need houses in Dublin, as well as in Cork, Galway and Limerick.
Experts said it was highly unusual for a state body to criticise a think tank like the ESRI, which is partly government funded.
The Housing Agency, which was set up four years ago to help the Government and local authorities assess housing needs, said 79,660 residential units are needed in urban areas, not just Dublin.
Chief executive John O'Connor said: "Our research is based on where the population will require housing in urban centres as opposed to a county-wide level, as the ESRI have done."
The ESRI report concentrated on a county-by-county analysis, without distinguishing between housing needs in urban and rural parts of each county.
Mr O'Connor said his agency's study looked at urban centres within each county.