Guaranteed Irish Hosts Panel Discussion on Brexit Challenges and Opportunities For Irish Construction Sector
As part of Guaranteed Irish Construction Month, a roundtable discussion on Planning for a sustainable Irish construction sector in post-Brexit Ireland – The challenges and opportunities focused on safeguarding homegrown construction jobs and building a future for the construction industry in Ireland.
Guaranteed Irish designates September as ‘Construction Month’ each year. Now in its third year, the business membership organisation highlights the contribution its construction, manufacturing and engineering members make to Irish jobs, local communities and the Irish economy. Members of Guaranteed Irish in the construction sector include Kingspan, Saint Gobain, Tegral, Kilsaran Concrete, Combilift and many more.
The roundtable discussion, attended by business leaders from the construction, manufacturing and engineering industries, highlighted the solutions and actions required by the Government to sustain quality construction jobs in a post-Brexit Irish economy.
The roundtable discussion was held in Croke Park and the panel comprised of a number of key decision-makers in the Irish construction sector, including:
Pat Lucey, President, Construction Industry Federation (CIF), and Regional Director, Civils, John Sisk & Son.
Rachel Kenny, Director of Planning, An Bord Pleanala
Kathryn Meghan, CEO, RIAI
Brian Dolan, Managing Director, Saint Gobain Ireland
Paddy Kelly, CEO, Tegral and Chair of Guaranteed Irish
Patrick Atkinson, CEO, Grafton Group.
Future-proofing for Brexit
Attendees shared concerns regarding the impact of Brexit on the Irish construction industry and discussed opportunities that Guaranteed Irish members should be focusing on that could help to avoid a boom and bust scenario in the industry in the near future.
Five hundred thousand homes across the country currently requiring retrofitting could future-proof opportunities within construction regarding employment for the next 30 years. The Government needs to continue to support this programme and reassure consumers that there is funding in place to support deep retrofitting.
There was a strong focus on how the sector can play a role in achieving environmental targets and reduce the carbon footprint of the Irish construction industry. The panel discussed how the construction sector needs to be incentivised to achieve zero carbon emissions if it is to have any chance of reaching its target. Members of the panel called on the Government to define sustainability to include locally sourced materials, reward less travel required and incentivising creation of regional enterprise and employment.
Six Brexit Action Areas
The six main areas Guaranteed Irish has called on the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy TD and the Government to review include:
- Brexit’s effect on Irish construction and how to avoid a boom and bust economy in the construction sector.
- Driving towards a zero-carbon target by rewarding those who use local services, sources and supply chains.
- Building houses using materials and products that are available from companies in Ireland who support local jobs.
- Rebranding the construction industry to attract educated and innovative design and engineering talent.
- Creating a national design competition to attract innovative solutions to the housing crisis.
- Creating regional opportunities to support regional construction jobs through retrofitting.
Brid O’Connell, CEO, Guaranteed Irish said Government must take action to ensure the construction sector remains sustainable and can retain jobs within it.
“Our members are prepared to play their part and call on the Government to meet them halfway. Events, such as our construction roundtable discussion, are vital for the construction sector based here in Ireland as it allows us to discuss issues of urgency relevant to the current economic landscape. Guaranteed Irish represents all that is good about Ireland, and we need to protect those businesses who aspire to that. We hope that the expertise provided by our panel helped to shed light on the concerns and challenges facing the construction sector in Ireland today,” said Brid O’Connell.