COWBOY builders have been given a roasting over construction standards from Enda Kenny, who called for a reform of the Irish construction industry from within in the wake of the Priory Hall debacle.
The Taoiseach criticised the "appalling lack of building standards" and the "catastrophic carry-on" that characterised the boom years. He went on to describe the legacy of bad building as a "festering sore", which remains to be sorted out".
Mr Kenny said: "I've been in houses where women cried and cried after being told, 'buy your house with a bonded scheme' – and there's the wall split, the floor is rising and they can't close the door.
"Everybody accepts that the development of an unsustainable construction sector, combined with an appalling lack of building standards by a minority in your industry – made worse by a completely lax enforcement regime – was a catastrophe for the construction sector and for our country."
He was speaking at the Construction Industry Federation's annual conference in the Aviva Stadium.
He urged the sector to tackle its quality and trust problems hand in hand with the Government on the back of a range of new measures being introduced by the Cabinet.
The Taoiseach went on to outline a range of forthcoming government measures to improve building standards, which include:
* New building regulations coming into effect next March, ensuring that every building has to be certified by a professional before it is occupied.
* The establishment of a statutory register for builders and related professionals – a list of 'excellence' from which offenders can be struck off.
* New measures to establish a 'zero-tolerance' approach to non tax-compliant contractors.
The Taoiseach said fixing the sector's trust issues was not insurmountable – as the agri-food sector had shown in recovering from the horse-meat debacle.
He pointed to government capital spending for schools and new roadworks projects – along with €13.2bn left to be spent in the public capital programme – as sources of stimulus.
But developers will be disappointed that he would not be drawn on the CIF's pre-Budget call for a reduction in VAT on new homes from 13.5pc to 9pc.