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Should I rent or should I buy?

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THIRTY years on from The Clash's iconic song 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go?', a new young adult generation's dilemma appears to be a choice between renting and buying a home. Neither market evidence nor expert advice appears to help.

A decade just passed, which saw the Irish home property market go through several convulsions, reminds us that this is a decision which could mean the difference between future solvency and prosperity, or prolonged struggle and misery.

The long-standing Irish cultural assumption was that rent was "dead money" and essentially the tenant was paying so someone else could acquire a long-term asset with no future benefit for the renter. Those who bought houses or apartments at a king's ransom in 2005/2006 learned that this old maxim was true only up to a point.

Saddled with mega-debt, and entitlement to live in a property now worth half that debt, many of those unlucky ones rue the day they did not stay renting.

More recently, tentative economic recovery showed rents rising significantly, firstly in Dublin, and then across the country. Surely, it was time to stop paying someone else's mortgage and buy a home?

Well, it may not be all that simple. The supply of appropriate housing is scarce; credit difficult to get; and a 20pc mandatory deposit for mortgage approval looms for the immediate future. To top that, the head of the Government's advisory Housing Agency now warns that houses are still over-priced - despite being halved from the heights of 2006 - and still represent bad value and a risky future proposition.

At the same time, the charity Focus Ireland tells us that those with the buy-or-rent dilemma may be the lucky ones. Despite rising prosperity, 800 children have been made homeless in recent months.

Focus Ireland acknowledges this Government's commitment to action on the issue. But all of us know that "home" is essentially an anchor, a haven, a harbour, without which it is hard to have much else in life.

We all need a re-think about housing in Ireland. An obvious departure point is a radical re-casting of tenants' rights to make renting a real and long-term option.

Sinn Fein must tell gardai all they know

NEWS that, 30 years on from the events, republicans are finally telling gardai more about child abuse cases, both in the Republic and the North, must be regarded as a positive development. But it is still hard to enthuse about learning less and later.

Like other groups, the IRA and Sinn Fein have fallen far short in their response to one of the most heinous crimes known to mankind. We again note the speed with which they found fault with others on this issue.

The news that a Co Meath councillor and IRA veteran is now liaising with gardai is welcome, if very belated, as it relates to events so many years ago. For one thing, many of the would-be culprits are undoubtedly dead already.

That said, it is never too late to face up to child abuse and the failures of adults other than abusers to defend the most vulnerable. All of us can learn lessons for all of our lifetimes and into future generations.

So, while we welcome this new-found IRA/SF cooperation, we must insist that comprehensive cooperation with the authorities is needed.

Irish Independent