Thank you for joining me for your weekly edition of Housing Crisis Update, for the podcast version click here.
Will they, won’t they
Delays in validating wills are said to be contributing to the chronic shortage of housing. A survey by life insurer Royal London points to a waiting time wait of up to 16 months on average from an individual’s passing to the disbursement of their assets.
This is causing financial stress for families and reducing the number of homes on the market, according to Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien.
Information supplied to the TD shows that some 30,000 people pass away in Ireland each year, most of them homeowners.
A Department of Justice taskforce was announced in June 2016 to look into the issue but has still not been established.
On Saturday Mary Bermingham at thecork.ie reports the sale of a NAMA site near the city has raised hackles, with Ted Tynan of the Workers’ Party calling it the “wrong decision”. The city councilor said the sale of 43 acres near Douglas to Glenveagh would net the company revenues of upwards of €84 million at a time when the provision of genuinely affordable public housing should be the priority.
Cllr. Tynan said NAMA should not be acting like a private company but should instead be instructed by government to make significant land banks available to local authorities.
Fag factory dreams
A Dublin councilor has called for more ambitious measures to tackle Dublin's housing crisis, including the compulsory purchase of vacant sites like Player Wills on South Circular Road.
Cllr Moynihan went on to claim that the private housing market is being dominated by speculators building mansions for the rich.
Can’t build, won’t build
Staying in the capital, residents local to Oscar Traynor Road have expressed their frustration at what they call serious delays in the development of a large site owned by Dublin City Council, which residents say is plagued by illegal dumping and malicious fires.
The 17-hectare site has been slated for development for four years; however, no developer has been found to start the work. This is despite an estimate given in May 2017 by then Housing Minister Simon Coveney that construction would begin in the second-half of 2019.
Each had a wooden horse
On Sunday, John Lee at extra.ie reports on a rift between Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and An Taoiseach.
In a bit of palace intrigue, cabinet colleagues have briefed that Minister Murphy’s handling of the housing crisis is said to be causing concern over at the Chaz Mahal, with An Taoiseach said to be worried the embattled Housing Minister’s performance reflects directly on him.
Announcing initiatives too early, re-announcing policies and failing to identify and deliver successes are some of the problems with Eoghan Murphy’s performance identified by the unnamed source, who said, “there have been other announcements like the strengthening of the Residential Tenancy Board which just haven’t happened.“ The source went on to call him a “Good Time Charlie”.
The news comes as Fine Gael get ready for a cabinet reshuffle and an election likely to take place in 2020, and come to terms with the certainty that the housing crisis will not be resolved by that time.
Warriors both of cause
Laura Larkin at the Indo reports a rebuttal from An Taoiseach the following day, who rejected speculation that his relationship with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy had soured.
Taking time out from a week-long jaunt to Africa, the Fine Gael leader denied that his confidence had been shaken in the Dublin Bay South TD saying “I really don't know where it's coming from."
That’d be your colleagues, Leo.
Rónán Duffy at journal.ie reports on the latest figures from IBEC which show Ireland doesn’t have enough experienced construction workers to meet government construction targets. In 2016 the business group said that up to 100,000 workers would be needed to meet the targets, but that only 26,000 have been added in that time. The number of workers on the Live Register formerly in craft or related sectors numbers only 33,000.
The organisation added to calls for mass inward migration to make up the shortfall.
Sane, sorted, solvent
Meanwhile at the Indo, Gavin McLoughlin reports on the number of builders going insolvent, which increased by almost half in the last year.
New figures compiled by Deloitte show 158 construction firms went into insolvency last year, compared to 108 in 2017. Deloitte attributed the losses to the rising cost of labour and materials, along with the collapse of Carillion, a major UK builder. This is despite the Irish economy overall recording a decrease in insolvencies of 12% over the same period.
Deloitte went on to warn that a hard Brexit could boost insolvencies by aggravating the same factors it identified in its report.
The art of enclosure
Dr Vittorio Bufacchi writing for the RTÉ website’s Eile section gets philosophical as he makes the case for a more nuanced Irish attitude to property.
“Perhaps it's a lingering aftermath of 800 years of British oppression and colonialism,” says Bufacchi “but Ireland has a profoundly unhealthy understanding of private property, [thinking of it] as our private fiefdom. Any interference by third parties, including the state, is perceived as the essence of social injustice. He says this gives “too much power to wealthy individuals and financial institutions.”
Now I know my KBCs
Staying with RTÉ, Mícheál Lehane reports on a gentleman’s agreement between three TDs and KBC Bank. The bank had been a client of GS Agencies, an unlicensed security firm run by ex-British soldier Ian Gordon. The firm carried out a violent eviction near Strokestown in December which caused a national scandal. Independent TD Mattie McGrath said that without putting words in the bank's mouth, he believes it will not take similar action in the future. However, representatives from the bank did not appear to confirm this.
The meeting followed from a well-publicised sit-in at one of the bank's Dublin offices before Christmas.
Homelessness normal says unemployed man
Former chair of the Housing Agency Conor Skehan used his appearance on Claire Byrne Live on Monday night, heavily criticising the housing charity sector and repeated his claim that the level of homelessness in Ireland is “normal”.
Reacting to Skehan’s comments, Focus Ireland’s director of advocacy Mike Allen told TheJournal.ie “it’s hard to work out” what Skehan was trying to say. “He believes that homelessness is normal,” Allen said, “but he doesn’t believe that having organisations to help homeless people is normal, that just doesn’t make any sense,” Allen said.
In a similar exchange last year, Allen pointed to Finland as contradicting Skehan’s claims that homelessness could not be ended. The Nordic country has all but ended homelessness by eliminating nearly every shelter and emergency accommodation unit, turning instead to supported housing units with independent flats for tenants.
And that concludes your weekly Housing Crisis Update. If you’d like to receive the regular Housing Crisis Update podcast just go to murphythejournalist.com/podcast and click subscribe, or follow me on Twitter at murphythejourno or on Facebook at facebook.com/murphythejourno.