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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Builders' register 'will get rid of cowboys'

Published 20/07/2016 | 02:30

Minister Paschal Donohoe and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the launch of the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Minister Paschal Donohoe and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the launch of the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. Photo: Colin O’Riordan

A new register of builders is required in order to get "the cowboys out of the industry", according to the organisation that lobbies on behalf of builders.

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Director General of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) Tom Parlon said there has been a lot of "ills within the industry in the past", pointing to what he described as the "poor and shoddy work by some developers".

Mr Parlon told the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Donegal, that a new register of builders is required in order to police standards in construction.

"It's the way of getting the cowboys out of the industry," he said.

Mr Parlon said the industry has been "excluded" from the formation of housing policy in recent years because of the blame it received for the economic collapse.

The former Progressive Democrats politician said it has been "very difficult to get the ear" of ministers as a result of the negative sentiment towards builders.

Mr Parlon added that politicians and the civil service "don't want to be seen supporting house builders".

"There is no line department in Government for the construction industry.

"The Department of Housing is doing more monitoring than they do helping the industry."

Mr Parlon also criticised the media, who he says get on the backs of TDs when initiatives are announced asking, "Is this back to the days of the Galway tent?"

The CIF boss said the Government's new housing strategy has been published five years too late.

He told the MacGill Summer School one of the big issues facing builders is obtaining credit, and added that big firms such as Apple are concerned about the lack of accommodation available for staff.

But he said it is absolutely essential that the Government has a vision for housing over the next 20 years, particularly given the rent costs in Dublin and the difficulty for first-time buyers in affording a deposit.

Mr Parlon said his organisation analysed the ability of workers such as gardaí and teachers to get on the property ladder and that it is quite clear the current rules required tweaking.

Also addressing the debate on housing, Dr Lorcan Sirr of Dublin Institute of Technology flagged the issue of housing obsolescence.

Dr Sirr said 6,400 houses become obsolete every year in Ireland, and that the problem is particularly serious in urban areas.

He said this can happen for a range of reasons, such as a family dispute or simply because people "just can't be bothered" to look after their properties.

"This obsolescence is a serious issue around the country and it's something we need to tackle," Dr Sirr said.

The housing expert said that estimates that we need 20,000-30,000 houses per year are too low.

He said he believes the real level of need could be as high as 50,000 per year.

"What we have failed to do over the years is to account for all the houses falling out of use and falling out of stock," Dr Sirr told the debate.

Irish Independent

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