Cork developer Michael O'Flynn 'surprised' housing not named an essential service

Cork developer Michael O'Flynn 'surprised' housing not named an essential service
Developer Michael O'Flynn, file photo.

The construction of housing during the coronavirus epidemic should be considered an essential service, according to Cork property developer Michael O'Flynn.

The majority of building and construction sites were shut down last Friday after the Government introduced further restrictions.

But developer Michael O'Flynn said the housing crisis still exists despite the pandemic.

He said that he was surprised that housing was not included in a list of essential services.

He said: "I was somewhat surprised, as were colleagues in our area, that housing wasn't included as an essential service."

"In the run-up to this unfortunate virus, housing was probably the number one issue in this country.

"I think that putting housing in with the entire construction [sector] is not the right thing to do."

His company had to lay-off around 500 people who were either directly employed or subcontracting at 10 construction sites around the country.

“We were in the process of delivering around 200 houses in the Cork and Dublin areas, some of which were close to completion,” he said.

Unfortunately, we can't build houses from home.

The developer said he didn’t think the government should have closed down all construction sites, especially if it could be proved that workers could continue building while properly adhering to the HSE guidelines.

“I firmly believe that firms not dealing with the guidelines should have been stopped, but I don’t think it was necessary to close down the entire construction industry,” Mr O’Flynn said.

“If it (construction work) is properly policed it will work. We had people policing each other. We found a way of doing our work with proper physical distancing,” he added.

- Additional reporting Sean O'Riordan

- Updated at 12.18pm

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