Cap the price of building land to ease housing crisis, says Micheál Martin

Fianna Fáil leader claims 1973 Kenny Report can be implemented without referendum

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has asked the party’s justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, a senior counsel, to examine whether the Kenny Report could be implemented without the need for a referendum on the right to own private property. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has asked the party’s justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, a senior counsel, to examine whether the Kenny Report could be implemented without the need for a referendum on the right to own private property. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

 

Fianna Fáil supports the implementation of the Kenny Report from the 1970s to put a cap on the price of land sold for housing, according to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Mr Martin has asked the party’s justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, a senior counsel, to examine whether the Kenny Report could be implemented without the need for a referendum on the right to own private property.

In 1973, Judge John Kenny recommended in the Report of the Committee on the Price of Building Land that building land should be compulsorily acquired by local authorities at no more than 25pc more than its agricultural value.

The report was never implemented as it was feared that the cap on the price of building land was contrary to the constitutional provision on private property.

Mr Martin said the issue needed to be re-examined to address the growing housing shortage. The State should get involved in house-building and implementing the Kenny Report would be a first step towards embarking on major construction programme to ease the current crisis.

“Fianna Fail did it before in different eras - the state had the capacity in much poorer times in the 1930s and 1940s to build houses - the market today has failed and the state needs to get involved not just on the local authority front but on the affordable housing front,” he said.

Speaking in Fermoy where he officially opened the Thomas Kent School of History at the weekend, Mr Martin said his initial view was the cap could be introduced without having to change the constitution.

“I think implementing Kenny is morally the right thing to do - I don’t think there should be windfall profits once land is rezoned but it would also undoubtedly reduce the cost of housing because the price of land at the moment is a significant factor in increasing the price of houses.”