Date Published: 16-Jun-2011
Padraic Kenna has a simple solution to the ghost estates blighting the countryside. Bulldoze them and build parks for kids.
To deal with the looming personal debt crisis, which has so far put up to 400,000 in negative equity?
Extend mortgages for up to 60 years as is common practice in Germany.
Padraic – or Dr Kenna as he is known in academic circles – is one of the country’s foremost experts in housing. And he is not afraid of going out on a limb to give an opinion.
To his colleagues in NUI Galway he will probably be best known as the academic who helped do away with the requirement to pass an Irish exam for staff jobs after bringing his employers to court.
To the voluntary sector, he will be recognised as the man who headed the Galway Simon Community for five years.
The author of six books, his latest tome is the result of three years’ research but a lifetime’s work.
House Law, Rights & Policy is an essential reference point for lawyers, legislators, local authority officials, policy makers and analysts, as well as a key guide for housing professionals such as planners, housing managers, estate agents, architects and engineers.
The book – weighing in at over 1,000 pages – does not make for light bedtime reading. But it could prove invaluable for people on residents’ committees or those who find themselves in dispute with a landlord or mortgage company, as it contains the most up to date law and policy documents.
We Irish like to think we have a unique relationship with home ownership. Nearly three-quarters of us own our own homes – incredibly 40% without a mortgage – far ahead of Germany (43%) but far behind the likes of Slovenia and Greece, where more of the population live rurally.
Peculiarly in Ireland, Padraic believes, people immediately associate housing with social and local authority dwellings.
“Social housing is only about 10% of housing in Ireland. Because of the Part V requirement [in the housing act where 20% of developments had to be set aside for affordable and social housing] it’s all linked. In about 2000, one third of all the houses on the market began life as a council house. It provided the basis for the boom as people moved up the housing ladder.”
The housing system operates on the back of a range of subsidies paid for by the taxpayer such as the mortgage interest relief, tax breaks for developers, first time buyer’s grant.
So finance, planning and social policy are all interconnected, he explains.
“If there’s a message that I have learned after three years it’s that people who write the policy don’t talk to the people who know the law. There’s no dissonance as I call it – no coherence in our system of law and policy. It’s all fragmented and fractured. The government adopts policies but they don’t see it as a whole system. There was a complete lack of joined up thinking.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Retail industry trade body welcomes B&Q announcement
Date Published: 07-May-2013
Retail Excellence Ireland, the country’s largest retail industry trade body, has welcomed the news that 60 jobs have been saved at the city branch of B&Q.
It’s after the home improvements store successfully exited examinership.
Under the scheme, 2.4 million euro is to be invested by parent company Kingfisher plc, and B and Q will continue to trade at eight stores
This means 640 jobs have been saved nationwide, including 60 at the outlet in Knocknacarra.
However, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland says landlords need to be willing to help out smaller retailers too.
Foundation reports nine Galway heart deaths each week
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Nine people die in Galway every week from heart disease and stroke.
That’s according to the Irish Heart Foundation, which is launching its Happy Hearts Appeal today. (9/5)
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched the appeal today to help raise funds for the charity, which has seen increasing demand on its patient services.
The Foundation says it needs to raise at least half a million euro to maintain existing information services.
Call to tackle delays at Oranmore rail crossing
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Concerns have been raised over traffic delays at the railway crossing in Oranmore.
Councillor Jim Cuddy says he has received many representations from local motorists who have been experiencing extended delays.
He says the closed barrier can sometimes cause a traffic tailback as far as the roundabout near the Maldron hotel.
Cllr Cuddy has brought the matter to the attention of Iarnrod Eireann and has asked for an explanation as to why the crossing is closed for so long.