Thursday 23 November 2017

Invest pensions 'to build more schools'

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

IRISH pension funds should be invested in building schools, hospitals, libraries and sports facilities to help Ireland become a world-class country in which to live and work, the incoming president of the Royal Institute of the Architects in Ireland (RIAI) last night said.

Speaking at his inauguration, Paul Keogh said if the billions of euro invested abroad were spent on improving infrastructure, a "win-win" situation would arise where construction workers and architects would return to work while the country would benefit.

He said figures from the Department of Education showed that 1,100 schools needed funding for major capital works, 400 primary health-care facilities were needed and the Government did not know the condition of sports facilities.

Although there had been major investment on projects like the Wexford Opera house and the National Convention Centre, delays are dogging flagship projects like the National History Museum, Collins Barracks, Abbey Theatre and the Children's Museum.

There were "similar roadblocks" with projects to provide libraries and courthouses.

"There is the view that there are no funds for such investment," Mr Keogh said. "But there are recent reports that up to €70bn of Irish pension funds is invested in equities abroad, and the Construction Industry Council has put a proposal to Government to harness some of these monies for investment in upgrading our national infrastructure. If it worked, it would be a 'win-win' situation."

The founding partner of Paul Keogh Architects, Mr Keogh was born in Dublin and studied architecture at UCD and the Royal College of Art in London.

His firm, PKA, has won a number of awards, including the RIAI Awards, AAI Awards Plan Opus Awards, the Irish Housing Awards, the RIAI Silver Medal for Housing, and the Irish Planning Institute Awards.

Irish Independent

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