The Following letter was sent to Social Justice Ireland on April 22nd, 2014:
Re: Self Builders need Social Justice help
Dear Fr. Sean & Social Justice Team,
My name is Amanda Gallagher from Sligo. Myself & my husband have done a number of Radio & TV interviews in the last few weeks. We are absolutely devastated at what Minister Phil Hogan has done to our family and the entire country. We were due to self build our new family home in the summer but as of March 1st last you can no longer self build in Ireland. This is an absolute disgrace – we are now the only country in the world to ban self building. All construction must go through a main building contractor at extortionate prices.
We are currently in a local authority house and were going to hand the keys back to the State for another family in need when our home was built – in fact we are one of 1800 families alone this year who have abandoned our planned builds as we will never be able to afford building contractors rates – the introduction of these laws has just created a bigger housing crisis than the one that is already gripping the nation.
The Minister is not being truthful with the entire nation – I personally feel he is too scared to tell the truth as the nation would be horrified on hearing it – he is still issuing statements that you can self build but even the Law Society have now advised the professionals not to work alongside self builders. These laws have just widened the gap between the rich people and the poor people in Ireland. They are most restrictive, they offer no new safety measures for the consumer, they enshrine the CIF (Construction Industry Federation), they are anti social, unjust and are the most irrational laws ever to be introduced in Ireland – I say irrational because a self builder does exactly the same thing as a self building contractor – we both study plans, employ tradesmen, listen to architects, purchase materials – there is one difference however – the building contractor gains a hefty profit!!
The Government have now introduced incentives for Developers and builders to gain easier access to finances to build for profit! I was absolutely shocked on hearing this grim news. They erase the right for the ordinary man to build a home for his family while at the same time they fuel the greed of developers and builders – one must question the rationale of this present government – have they learned nothing of the terrible boom & bust days?
The Minister has been given an alternative building control solution, invented by 2 past presidents of the RIAI – a solution that would not burden the ordinary families in Ireland with enormous debt – a solution that would include self builders. Self building is the preferred method of building in Ireland, it is a centuries old tradition – but now with these new laws – building a home for one’s family is only for the rich!
We need the help of Social Justice Ireland. We have nowhere else to turn.
Regards & God love you,
Amanda Gallagher (Sligo)
Reply from Social Justice Ireland received on April 23rd, 2014:
Many thanks for your email. We will endeavour to bring up this issue that you have highlighted in any future meetings that we may have with policymakers and the Department of Environment.