Tuesday 25 October 2016

2016 is the perfect year to create a national vision on housing

Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30

Ireland moves from a glut of construction to a massive housing shortage. Reuters
Ireland moves from a glut of construction to a massive housing shortage. Reuters

Is there something in our DNA that fuels our property fixation? Obviously, one can go back to the penal times, when we were deprived of ownership.

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But surely our relationship with land and development ought to have matured since then. The obsession with ownership and control still persists; the feast or famine, boom/bust cycle continues.

We go from a construction glut, where the skylines of our cities were thick with cranes, to a massive housing shortage.

Once more the 'Pale', or greater Dublin area, appears to be marching to a different drum in regard to the pace of development and recovery.

The latest figures in terms of house price growth show prices slowly rising in the capital while they soar elsewhere.

Going by Daft House Price Report guidelines nationally, asking prices rose by an average of 8.5pc in 2015. In Dublin they rose by just 2.7pc along the western seaboard; in some Border regions they leaped by up to 18pc.

The slowdown in Dublin prices suggests a narrowing of the gap between demand in the country and the city.

The Central Bank's insistence on a 20pc deposit is having an impact in Dublin. But there is still a serious supply shortage. For too long, failure to plan has resulted in planning to fail as the flooding crisis illustrates so tellingly.

The urban-rural divide is a concern. There must be more strategic planning involving joined-up thinking and integrated policies for the entire country. This means transcending, and even over-riding, local or sectoral interests.

For too long the east coast has been prioritised and over-developed at the expense of the rest of the country.

In the centenary of 1916, is it too much to hope for a national vision?

RG Fullam

Greystones, Co Wicklow


Signs are good for tourism

Tourism should undoubtedly be the 'dead cert' economic winner in 2016 - and it's vital nothing is done to upset form.

Our name and reputation will be on the line worldwide. Exploitation is out; only the best service at a reasonable price is good enough.

Remember, this can create big repeat business if rules are observed. Tourists and holidaymakers, as well as spreading the good news, will also make return visits.

The 1916 centenary celebrations must be a huge attraction for expats - and the hundreds of commemorations planned all over the country will provide excitement and entertainment galore.

A record number of holidaymakers - around 8.2million - is expected to arrive in Ireland during 2016, generating a spending spree in the region of €4.4bn.

All the pointers to a boom year for tourism are positive. The increased demand for hotels and the refurbishing of older ones is an obvious indicator.

As gas and electricity costs drop, energy prices should remain low, ensuring all-round value for money. The lower price of petrol and diesel will also make transport and motoring more attractive for the tourist.

And, of course, the optimism created by a General Election will, at least temporarily, lift the spirits of the Irish at home, hopefully reverberating in a huge "Céad míle fáilte" and a true renewal of the hospitality that is our heritage.

James Gleeson

Thurles, Co Tipperary


Stop bashing the Coalition

I would like to applaud Enda Kenny, Joan Burton and the Government for their great work.

I am an old age pensioner and I have lived through hard times - these are good times for most people in our country. However, every day we hear such negative criticism.

Each hurler on the ditch is going to do a great job: no property tax, no water tax, etc. Where will the money come from to run the country?

A good manager does things right. Good leaders such as Enda and Joan do the right thing, not the popular thing. I sincerely hope they are elected with a large majority. They have got us out of a bad mess.

Proinsias Breatnac



Labour advert is offensive

The new Labour party advert is in extremely poor taste. I am disgusted that the Irish Labour Party would use the Marriage Equality Referendum in this manner. Many people like myself have waited a long time for equality, and I find this ad disgusting.

It's a sign of desperation. Joan Burton should withdraw the ad and apologise for the offence caused - I have emailed the Tánaiste and leader of the Labour Party asking her to do this as soon as possible.

Cllr Francis Timmons (Independent)

Clondalkin, Dublin


Keeping State funds flowing

How long before we are taxed for getting rid of water?

Robert Sullivan

Bantry, Co Cork


Farmers and climate change

In the coming months, we will hear the inevitable and justifiable complaints of farmers whose lands and livelihoods have been devastated by the extraordinary flooding of recent weeks.

While these farmers should receive as much help and understanding as possible, we should also remember that the IFA has consistently used its considerable clout to oppose and delay legislation intended to tackle climate change down through the years.

While we now have belated and inadequate climate change legislation in place, it is noteworthy that Enda Kenny still found it necessary to kowtow to the farming lobby in his embarrassing display of double-speak at the climate change conference held in Paris last November.

It is time for farmers, particularly big farmers and agribusiness, to join the dots. Like the rest of us, they must play their part in tackling the root cause of the flooding that is currently causing such distress and disruption.

Joe Murray

Collins Ave, Dublin 9

Irish Independent

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