Saturday 22 October 2016

Only radical thinking can solve housing crisis

Published 07/06/2016 | 02:30

Finance Minister Michael Noonan Photo: Tom Burke
Finance Minister Michael Noonan Photo: Tom Burke

It is beginning to look increasingly unlikely that there will be a cut in VAT on housing, despite the commitment to do so set out in the current Programme for Government. That same commitment is expected to be endorsed by the Dáil's Housing and Homelessness Committee, which has included it in its draft report.

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But Finance Minister Michael Noonan has made it clear that he is not convinced a VAT cut from 13.5pc to 9pc will help first-time buyers.

His concerns that the rebate will end up lining the pockets of developers instead of helping families on to the property ladder may be well founded; though one wonders if he should not have waited for the Housing Committee report before forming his opinion.

But it is clear that he does have alternative proposals for increasing housing supply. A major part of that must be encouraging developers and builders back into action.

How any young couple can be expected to save to meet the Central Bank's rigorous deposit rules, while also paying hefty rents, is a mystery.

Yet again, it is abundantly clear that many of the lucky few who make it on to the property ladder get there thanks to the munificence of close relatives. Apart from the simple injustice to a rising generation of Irish people, there is the constant risk of knock-on consequences.

This, after all, is the generation expected to carry the burden of contributing to the economy and paying into the pensions of an ageing population.

Ireland's relatively high rate of home ownership was long seen as contributing to good social order.

We need radical action to address our housing crisis.

We will not see Ali's like again in this cynical era

To say Muhammad Ali was a boxing star is raising the bloody obvious to a new height. The three-times world champion dominated his chosen sport and brought it to the attention of millions who took scant interest in it before or since.

But Ali, who has been mourned right across the globe, was more than a superstar in the ring. He touched more lives than any other sporting personality and shaped the second half of the last century.

The man was no angel and he made more than his share of errors on the road of life. But his courageous stance for human rights was a major inspiration to African-Americans, giving them, in turn, the courage to stand up for themselves, and insist upon their right to live dignified lives.

He was prepared to pay the price for his convictions. His insistence on not serving in the US military in Vietnam deprived him of a world title and some of his prime years as a sportsman. Ali's simple insistence - "I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong" - inflamed passions and generated huge adverse reaction. But he was only fractionally ahead of his time.

Stricken by Parkinson's disease, he proved an inspiration to all who suffered this or similarly serious health problems. His real core characteristic was the joy he gave to others. In this cynical era, obsessed with fame and celebrity, he was a truly famous global celebrity who dwarfed other pretenders to fame.

Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.

Irish Independent

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