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‘House-building: the cost of going private’

Sir, – I read with interest and agreement your editorial “The Irish Times view on house-building: the cost of going private” (September 14th).

It is indeed a cause for significant concern that successive governments have moved away from building houses using state funding.

In doing so they arguably abdicated their social responsibility, favouring instead a menu of seductive incentives for private developers to supply Irish citizens with a place to call home, whatever the cost.

However, research has shown that across Ireland, residential property supplements played a part and had a role in the emergence of the residential property market, in particular during the Celtic Tiger. Supplements have been shown to be part of a wider media failure to hold any government to account with regard to a precarious economic growth based on property, and such property supplements significantly contributed to the house being framed as a commodity rather than a social need in Ireland.

So while I would concur that the “ideological shift” of Irish governments cited in your article from public to private housing does indeed need to be rethought, might I suggest that we also shift how we discuss what Irish society values with regard to housing?

Such a shift might not only change the words we use but also where those words appear in print.

Perhaps, rather than enabling housing through the property pages to act as a tool of a property industry determined to grow desire for a domestic commodity, we might instead champion shifts in the debates on housing, thus accurately identifying it as a social, spatial and cultural foundation of all civil societies, including our own.

It is time for this nation to move on the issue of housing and with it, a relocation, relocation, relocation of where and how we discuss housing is surely warranted. – Yours, etc,


Assistant Professor,

School of Architecture,

Planning and

Environmental Policy,

University College Dublin,

Dublin 4.