Thursday 27 October 2016

Our housing crisis cannot be put on hold

Published 07/06/2016 | 02:30

The housing crisis has to be dealt with in a meaningful way. Teeing things up with a meaningless '100-day deadline' is pointless. (Stock photo)
The housing crisis has to be dealt with in a meaningful way. Teeing things up with a meaningless '100-day deadline' is pointless. (Stock photo)

New Housing Minister Simon Coveney wanted to make a good first impression. Why wouldn't he? After all, you can only do that once. So he and the new Government laid down a marker to come up with a plan to tackle the housing crisis within 100 days. Guess what? They have admitted defeat already. They won't make it because of August.

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That's right, the month of August is the problem. True it is a perennial one, it generally can be relied upon to follow July, and precede September, but the Government hadn't allowed for it, or the fact that not much gets done that month.

So we're going to have to wait for a solution to the housing crisis. This is very bad news indeed, as today we reveal that the average age of a person buying their first home in Ireland has risen to 34. A decade ago most first-time buyers were in their twenties. But it's no great surprise that buyers are getting older. Rents are back at crazy Celtic Tiger levels. Factor in the Central Bank lending restrictions, and it is practically impossible for young people to get the money together to buy a home. According to last year's figures the average mortgage deposit in Dublin increased dramatically from €38,000 to €51,000.

That was a 38pc increase over 12 months. The sky-high deposits, coupled with the limits on the amount that can be borrowed based on income, mean that the dream of owning a home is receding for swathes of the population.

Our variable mortgage rates are also too high compared with the rest of the eurozone. The Central Bank has been heavily criticised for putting the interests of banks ahead of those of consumers on the variable rate issue.

People need homes; investors looking at Ireland will be thinking twice. The high cost of housing will inevitably put pressure on wages. Are we going to get to a point whereby first time buyers will be 65 before they can get on the property ladder? The housing crisis has to be dealt with in a meaningful way. Teeing things up with a meaningless "100-day deadline" is pointless.

Jerry McCabe's killers must be brought to justice

Early today, a small gathering took place in Adare to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the murder of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe. Two of the suspects believed to have taken part in the attack are still at large. They fled the country, yet they are known to come back and forth.

One of the suspects is believed to have made several trips back to Ireland to discuss the peace process with Sinn Féin.

It behoves anyone with an interest in democracy - and especially a party with representatives in the Dáil - to furnish the gardaí with any information they might have about the whereabouts of either suspect.

The murder of a garda is a grave offence and the fact that these men can enter and leave the country with impunity, when they are believed to have been part of the gang that took the life of Detective Garda McCabe, is an affront to all who believe in law and order.

'The Civic Guard' (renamed An Garda Síochána na hÉireann on August 8, 1923) was first formed by Michael Collins and the Irish government. It has been the bulwark against those who would threaten society and the State ever since. Those who would attack its members must be made feel that there is nowhere to hide. Anyone with information on where either of these men may be has both a moral and a patriotic duty to contact the gardaí.

Irish Independent

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