Friday 6 December 2019

A welcome move to deal with housing shortage

A shortage of supply has pushed prices up in the capital. Photo: Frank McGrath.
A shortage of supply has pushed prices up in the capital. Photo: Frank McGrath.

PLANS by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) to reinvigorate Dublin's Docklands and help deal with the acute housing shortage in Dublin are to be welcomed. The agency has had its critics. But it appears that it will now repay its debt ahead of schedule, and potentially even make a profit. The so-called bad bank committed yesterday to repaying a minimum of 80pc of its senior debt by the end of 2016, two years ahead of schedule. NAMA chairman Frank Daly pledged its debts will be repaid, and said a surplus could even be achieved.

The plans for NAMA's remaining years as outlined yesterday are ambitious.

The agency claims to be able to fund half of Dublin's housing needs over the next five years as well as significant housing in the counties adjoining Dublin and other major urban centres.

A shortage of supply has pushed prices up in the capital, making buying a home a daunting prospect for many. With its mountain of cash and property, NAMA may be the best tool this Government has to shape the Irish housing market.

The housing issue needs to be tackled and done so quickly. Experts have dismissed suggestions of a bubble but that's cold comfort to those trying to get a foothold on the property ladder and those priced out of the rental market.

But perhaps the most eye-catching of the announcements yesterday was the plan to reinvigorate the Dublin Docklands area to rival international locations like Canary Wharf in London, Boston's Seaport and Singapore's Marina Bay.

NAMA has said the development of the strategic development zone around the Dublin Docklands area can enable the capital to remain at the forefront of international financial and tech-nological services. It said the area presents a unique opportunity, claiming it is rare that such a large swathe of prime waterfront land in a modern city has remained undeveloped.

It's claimed that the investment will also mean an employment boost, with 14,000 construction and 4,000 ancillary jobs.

The plans are welcome and timely.

The funds must be found to safeguard children

THE publication of a series of reports into the deaths of four children in state care did not come with the usual handwringing and feigned lack of knowledge by the authorities to which we have become accustomed in recent decades.

Deficits in care and system-wide weaknesses were fully acknowledged.

The reports also came with a stark warning that more child deaths may occur unless there is adequate funding to support the Government's new Child and Family Agency (CFA).

Dr Helen Buckley, chair of the National Review Panel, writes in this newspaper today that it is hard to see how the promises made at the launch of the agency will be filled unless it receives appropriate financial support.

The financial warning coincides with the effective downgrading of the role of Children's Minister, which has now been merged with a new portfolio, Children and Public Health, led by the former Health Minister James Reilly.

The stand-alone ministry, combined with the establishment of the new CFA, was meant to draw a line in the sand of decades of failure by the State to protect vulnerable children.

Huge progress has been made by the State in its determination to reorganise its services to ensure best outcomes for children failed by all of society.

But now is not the time to rationalise and downgrade services for the most vulnerable minors in our midst.

The serious consequences are too costly and horrific to contemplate.

Irish Independent

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