The following letter was sent today, Sunday, May 18th to An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny….
Dear Mr Kenny,
I hope this letter finds you well. I would request that you, yourself, take the time to read this letter as it concerns you. I note that you forwarded all my other letters to Minister Hogan, don’t worry, I will send him on a copy of this myself.
I watched with interest the past weeks’ media coverage with the Tanaiste and yourself and your antics in the mud!
Only yesterday, I got around to briefly reading your Construction 2020 strategy document – it took me a while – but I have a few points I wish to make to you. I note that there is a lot of talk in this document of consultation, committees, meetings etc.. but not much in the way of practical remedies to the current housing crisis that is gripping Dublin – I want you to remember this fact – the supply / demand housing issue is mainly in Dublin. The rest of Ireland is in another crisis – that of a Building Control Crisis associated with the S.I. 9 – I will touch on this again later.
You have not given much in the way of ‘incentives’ to young families – in fact, I got a ‘de ja vu’ shiver down my spine when I read your strategy document – it seems not one of you in Leinster House have learned lessons from the days of ‘Ireland’s Property Madness’. You cannot be serious in wanting to help with mortgage deposits for people to purchase homes? – this ‘incentive’ will do nothing about the serious issues of overpriced homes, burdens of debt or future negative equity issues. This mortgage deposit ‘incentive’ you propose is actually another incentive which fuels the greed of Developers and Building Contractors only – and it is scandalous at how you masquerade it as an incentive for young families. You must address the serious problem of cost of houses in Dublin.
In fact, nothing in your Construction 2020 Strategy document, will assist people in need of Social Housing or those suffering from homelessness – how on earth do you think there will be no homelessness by 2016?
It got me thinking about why a new family home in an estate in Sligo would cost in the region of €185,000 and an identikit family home in an estate in Dublin would cost in the region of €475,000. The simple answer is land prices. Mr Kenny, we are well aware of the fact that Nama and as far as I know, Dublin City Council, owns acres upon acres of development land (sites) held since the property crash – it would be most fitting if you really wanted to show this Nation that you were serious about never repeating the Property Bubble again – if you sold this land (at a modest price) to Developers / Building Contractors on the one condition that they build much needed ‘affordable’ family homes, at reasonable prices, this type of incentive for developers and building contractors would be applauded by the Nation.
The land that is owned by the State from the Property Crash days, is in fact, rightfully ours – the State is acting like some misery old uncle who is holding back our inheritance – I am willing to forfeit my portion of inheritance if it goes towards enabling young Dublin families to purchase their own homes at affordable rates.
You know, the cost of roof tiles, blocks, timber, etc… is the same all over Ireland, as is the salary for tradesmen (the actual builders of homes) – electricians, carpenters etc.. therefore, if you factor out the cost of a site – a developer / contractor will build a house in Dublin for exactly the same cost as a developer/ contractor in Sligo. You must work on putting a stop to developers / builders in Dublin exploiting young families – if land cost is sorted out then there should be no excuse in the world why there is a €300,000 price difference for these families just because they reside in the Capital – it is high time that Building Contractors and Developers played fair game.
I understand that a Georgian Period Home in Dublin is going to be very expensive – rightly so. But we must stop this notion of identikit, 3/4 bedroom houses on Dublin estates being expensive also – these houses are extremely cheap to build so they must likewise be cheap to buy. The U.K Government have recently made ex Ministry of Defence land available to self builders – while I understand that the very idea that you would assist self builders in any way repulses you – but you can follow suit and make ex property crash land available to developers and contractors only if this, in turn helps the young families of Dublin – you would have the support of us all on this one.
Regarding the S.I. 9 – I want to reiterate to you my concerns over the awful suffering that is currently taking place all over the country. We cannot, any longer, deal with Minister Hogan and his officials in the DOECLG – they have all proven their incompetence in giving clear cut answers to most pressing questions. Even the Attorney General is stalling her opinion on the now infamous signatory issue within the S.I. 9 – one can only presume that she understands the absolute abhorrence that will engulf the entire Nation when one of you has the awful task of informing the citizens of these terrible facts:
• ‘yes, we have in fact banned self building – we do not want families to construct their own homes, on their own land, with their own efforts’
• ‘yes, we are in fact the only country in the world to do so’
• ‘yes, we knowingly made a substantial amount of professionals unemployed on Saturday, March 1st’
• ‘yes, we have in fact, enshrined the builders and developers of the private company – the CIF within the Laws of the Land’
• ‘yes, we have given the key stakeholders who were the only people at the table for the formulation of this unjust legislation a monopoly on design, certification and building in the Construction Sector – and yes, they are the only people who will ever gain financially from construction in Ireland.’
• ‘yes, we have in fact been extremely economical with the truth regarding the S.I. 9’
• ‘yes, we have in fact strengthened the scandal of the self regulation of the construction sector – and we did so because to have an Independent Inspectorate would have caused too much stress for the builders and developers of the CIF’
• ‘yes, we have incentivised building contractors and developers to build for more profit’
I pity the person who gets that task!
An Taoiseach – I implore you once again, as the leader of this country, and even more so, as a man from rural Ireland, to please call an emergency meeting of the key stakeholders in order to revoke the disastrous S.I.9 – but this time you must also reconvene the Building Regulations Advisory Board and invite representatives from the self build sector, the Law Society, construction professionals, Trades Unions and consumer agencies to this emergency meeting – and between all of you, come up with a fair, transparent, sensible solution to Building Control – a system which has all of these admirable qualities has already been formulated by two past presidents of the RIAI – It is called the ‘Collins & O’Cofaigh – A Better Way’ – this system is ready to go and would be cost neutral to the State.
I regret to inform you that Construction 2020 has already, in the space of a few days, failed. It has failed because the S.I. 9 is still alive, albeit barely – and until it is killed off permanently there will be no Construction Sector of any significance left in 2020 – if you want to show real leadership you must address what is happening in Construction 2014 – it is an industry in crisis – commencement notices have fallen off a cliff, assigned certifiers are fearful, self builders have been erased, many professionals, tradesmen and ordinary citizens are outcast – all due to the S.I.9. – until you address the current crisis you really cannot look ahead – one doesn’t need a time machine to tell you how this country will look in 2020…
I am afraid to say that this trend will continue – of this I am 100% sure – and it will be down to you and your Party – the S.I. 9 is causing activity in the construction sector to decrease at an alarming rate and if I were to write a strategy document for the construction sector of today it would have to be called ‘Contraction 2014’.
In the words of Edward R. Murrow above – he hit the nail on the head – we are a Nation of Sheep – and we elected Fine Gael after the black days of the property crash – in the hope of you being the Shepherds who would lead us to safer pastures – in light of the injustice we all feel with the S.I. 9 you can imagine what a ‘let down’ it is for us now to realise that we actually elected a cohort of Big Bad Wolves.
Well, I for one, no longer desire to be ruled by the ‘Wolves of Dail Street’ – and I am not alone – only God Himself knows how next Friday will transpire for Fine Gael – for there are many people who are still sleepwalking , due mainly to the ‘misinformation lullabies’ coming from you all – for this reason alone, there may be a slight possibility that your party will do well, but only slight – however, the General Elections are not too far away now and we all know where Fine Gael will be that day…for the Nation will no longer be sleepwalking – the Truth will have been told by then.
I am, as always, available to you for more ‘free’ common sense consultations regarding the self build crisis – and you are in my prayers as you are the only one left in our Government who can help us – Minister Hogan has been given ample opportunity to address the suffering and he has failed miserably – it seems the dazzling lights of Leinster House has gone to his head also!
Regards to you at this extremely difficult time in Ireland,
Mrs Amanda Gallagher (Sligo)