Regulatory failure? Reach for the bailout

Successive governments removed and diluted regulations

Sir, – As a non-executive director of the mutual ICS building society in the Celtic Tiger years, I proposed that they could do a service to their customers if they kept in touch with those to whom they lent money for new houses or apartments and made a list for the benefit of prospective borrowers of those builders who had built houses that were found to have latent defects.

I was talked down by the house-trained bankers and their protégés who ran the society for the Bank of Ireland; their security, they argued, was unlikely to be affected by the sort of defects that were commonplace. What I proposed would antagonise builders, who were valued customers. Protecting their borrowers did not seem to matter. The short-term bottom line was all. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 4.

Sir, – Pat Leahy suggests that a list of those builders that built “crappy” apartments should be compiled (“Can we compile a list of who built crappy apartments so we might consult it when considering future buildings?”, Opinion & Analysis, January 21st). First, let me apologise for using the word “crappy” when referring to people’s homes but this seems to be your new editorial standard. Second, yes, there is significant value in listing those who put profit before people’s lives.

As journalists, what is stopping your colleagues doing as suggested? Or does the shadow of those colourful property supplements only allow for hurling on the ditch? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 8.

Sir, – It would seem the exchequer is now going to fund repairs to apartments and duplexes, built during the Celtic Tiger era, to remedy structural defects that include non-compliance with fire safety regulations (News, January 19th). The actual cost and the number of buildings are unknown but it is estimated that up to 100,000 dwellings may be affected and at an estimated average remedial cost of €25,000 for each dwelling this will result in a total estimated cost of €2.5 billion.

Given the number of dwellings affected, what can be said is that these issues were not isolated instances of shoddy construction but represent a practice that clearly was deeply ingrained within the construction industry.

The industry had a blatant disregard for regulations and a cavalier approach to construction. I have yet to see any comment from the Construction Industry Federation for what occurred here.

In addition to these costs the State is also committed to meeting the costs of the Mica redress scheme where the estimated cost may be approaching €3 billion. The final issue to date, within the construction industry, was the cost borne by the State for the pyrite scandal which was estimated to have cost €150 million.

Adding to this catalogue of failure was the cost of the banking bailout, estimated at €45.7 billion, and “light-touch” regulation was to the fore.

These extraordinary costs were not visited upon the exchequer by mischance of misfortune.

They arose from deliberate policies by successive governments to remove, dilute or not enforce rules or regulations in response to the siren calls of business who argued that rules or regulations stifled growth, inhibited enterprise and that the costs borne in complying with these rules or regulations were much too burdensome.

These rules and regulations were not put in place to thwart business but had, as their core objective, the protection of consumers from shoddy practices that would otherwise occur in their absence.

These deliberate policies have now resulted in a bill to the exchequer of some ¤50 billion. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Pat Leahy’s article is a reminder of the immense safety net Irish taxpayers are expected to provide when things go wrong. We had the bank bailout and now it’s the dodgy builders being bailed out. Whatever next?

To add insult to injury the requirement to provide childcare facilities within these complexes rarely materialised, which in turn affects the same taxpayers. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6W.