While the Irish construction sector is experiencing growth and many within the sector are optimistic about the future after surviving a horrendous recession, challenges still remain.
Speaking at the CIF Annual Conference, held this year in Croke Park and in association with leading international law firm, Maples and Calder, Dermot O’Leary, Chief Economist with Goodbody Stockbrokers said housing was the number one policy issue facing this country.
He called for a number of measures to solve the current housing crisis including a Minister for Housing that would sit at cabinet, a reduction in VAT and a cut in local government levies.
We have various conflicting demands between higher building regulations and lower house prices and higher incomes versus competitiveness, he said.
“Failure to solve the housing issue has severe implications,” he added.
Louise Phelan from Paypal spoke about how impressed she was with the construction teams that built Paypal’s Dundalk offices in 2012. With over 2,600 staff, many based in Ireland, the issue now, she said, is aftercare support
“Our greatest challenge today is rental property,” Ms Phelan said.
“Property prices are a consistent problem for my teammates trying to find somewhere to live. In terms of housing, I’m asking all teammates in Ballycoolin in Dublin and Dundalk to see will they rent rooms for teammates that I am bringing in from 26 countries because they can’t get accommodation,” she added.
“Today I am paying €2,000 upfront to people coming into Ireland to put them into hotels so I can get a chance to get them residential accommodation.
“It costs about €1,500 to hire an individual, but today it’s costing me about €3,500 upfront to find a hotel for at least two to three weeks. It’s crisis time for us and for bringing in foreign direct investment overall.”
Dr Sean Kelly from Bristol Myers Squibb spoke about the company’s new facility currently under construction in Swords, North Dublin. Such is the pace at which the new facility needs to be completed a final cost for the project remains unknown.
“We are in the construction phase while design is till ongoing,” he said. Estimates for the final cost range from €700m to €1bn.
The worldwide demand for new forms of drugs is so strong he said they could build another new plat in the morning and it would reach capacity immediatley. Over 1,500 construction staff will work on site during peak construction phase.
A full report from CIF Annual Conference 2015 will appear in the November issue of Construction magazine.
Our image shows DIT apprentice Patrick Geraghty from Tallaght, alongside CIF Director General, Tom Parlon, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, Mary Buckley, IDA Ireland, and event sponsor Conor Owens, Maples and Calder.