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Dermot Desmond would 'borrow €20bn in the morning' to build homes if he was housing minister


Dermot Desmond

Dermot Desmond

Dermot Desmond

BILLIONAIRE financier Dermot Desmond said that he would ‘borrow €20bn in the morning” to build homes if he was housing minister.

He was speaking on RTÉ’s Radio One this morning after an article he wrote in the Irish Times about solutions to the housing crisis gained a lot of traction online over the weekend.

In the article, he says that potential home buyers cannot compete with institutions who purchase apartments for the purpose of renting.

He says that this forced them to become “permanent renters” which “permanently destroys” their savings.

Mr Desmond suggests that homes should not be build-to-rent, that the State should control policies for affordable housing and build homes faster in state owned land.

He details that the state is paying “double the necessary price for housing because of poor policy and poor management”.

Speaking with presenter Miriam O’Callaghan this morning, he said that if he was housing minister tomorrow morning, he would borrow €20bn to build homes.

“I’d borrow about €20bn for housing purposes, at [the interest rate of] one tenth of 1pc and deploy carefully and I think the State would benefit by doing so.”

Mr Desmond said that young people are not being given the opportunity to purchase a home.

“Our parents and forefathers left us Ireland a better place and we have the responsibility to do the same thing and leave it a better place for our children and our descendants,” he explained.

“We will not do that with living in rental accommodation, every parent wants to see their child to have a home and a job.

“We’re not giving them the opportunity to have a home. As a very low level clerk in a bank, I was able to buy my first house,” he said.

“How can we say that we have improved as a country in the last 40 years when you can’t buy a house when you’re starting off?”

He said that the State has assets “to deploy”.

“The government and the State and the authorities, they have the assets to deploy. They have the people and they can create competition amongst builders. We can create affordable housing and we can divide policies that will give everybody an opportunity to buy a house.”

“Per year, the state are contributing over a billion to rental accommodation and in all cases, they have no asset to show for it. If they were building social houses, they’ll have the asset to show for it at the end of the period. But they have none.

The article, published yesterday, was received well online by housing activists including Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin O’Broin, who suggested that Mr Desmond’s solutions are similar to that of those in the Sinn Féin manifesto.

“Clearly we have won the argument. Now we need a Govt to act,” he tweeted yesterday.

Online Editors