Michael O’Flynn: Housing is too expensive

At the Cork launch of Ibec’s ‘Better Lives, Better Business’ campaign at Páirc Uí Chaoimh were Jackie Murphy, Alcon Laboratories; James Winters, Ibec Cork regional president and global head of manufacturing at Teleflex; and Jean Casey, Eli Lily. Pic: Julien Behal

By Pádraig Hoare

Housing is too expensive and the simple reason the country is in the midst of a crisis.

That was the view expressed by developer Michael O’Flynn at an Ibec event on the economic and labour challenges facing Cork in the coming years.

The head of the O’Flynn Group said that while the Government had made a “serious attempt” to address the issues, there were fundamental flaws in the current system that could not be ignored.

The historical incorrect use of data — including where electricity connections were used to gauge new homes, but not allowing for reconnections — as well as land “being sold for far more than it is worth” were some of the factors hampering solutions to the crisis, said Mr O’Flynn.

He said there was a “paranoia” from Government when it came to reducing the Vat on builds from 13.5% to 9%.

“There is a paranoia that builders will somehow run away with the money,” he said.

“But the reality of the situation is that it is the buyer that has to absorb the extra cost. A builder has to make a profit.”

Too many people were forced to stay renting because of strict macroprudential rules, which in turn meant no chance to save money for a new home, he said.

“Unless we get to grips with the cost side, you cannot deal with the supply side. The macroprudential rules are too strict. You cannot save for a house when you are constantly paying rent,” he said.

The Cork launch of Ibec’s national campaign ‘Better Lives, Better Business’ at Páirc Uí Chaoimh heard from the organisation’s Susie Crosbie, who said that the lack of appropriate housing for a new type of workforce emerging would also hamper the region.

Michael O'Flynn

There was far too much focus on building five-bedroom houses but not nearly enough on two-bedroom homes to cater for younger families and international staff.

There was an average of 2.8 people in Cork homes, so it made little sense to focus mostly on five-bed builds, she said.

Ibec Cork regional president, James Winters, said Cork is a prime example of the need for planning and investment across the four pillars of Ibec’s campaign of housing, infrastructure, planning, and sustainability.

“In order to ensure Cork is sufficiently placed to deal with the challenges posed by this population growth, it is imperative that measures are taken to increase the supply of affordable housing, deliver the right infrastructure, overhaul the regime for planning consents and appeals, and embed sustainability in development activity,” he said.

Key policies included the N8/N25 Dunkettle Interchange, M20 Cork to Limerick, N22 Macroom to Ballyvourney, Cork Northern Ring Road, and N28 Cork to Ringaskiddy, as well as a major investment in public transport across metropolitan Cork in order to meet population increase, said Ibec.

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