Irish Political Economy, Lecture Two: The Development of the Irish State

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Information about Irish Political Economy, Lecture Two: The Development of the Irish State

Published on February 12, 2014

Author: conormccabe



Number two of eight classes on Irish political economy

Irish Political Economy for Trade Unionists and Activists 2. The development of the Irish State

“We wish to resuscitate the speculative builder..” W.T. Cosgrave, 1925

“We wish to resuscitate the speculative builder..” W.T. Cosgrave, 1925 Housing Acts, 1924 & 1925 - Building grants for owneroccupiers - Remission on local authority rates

“The modest level of housing activity which these acts stimulated was limited to Dublin and Cork – big local authorities who could raise money thro ug h bo nd is s ue s o n the s to c k e x c ha ng e … Because the Local Loans Fund, the mechanism used to finance local authority infastructure projects, did not extend to housing schemes, smaller local authorities who wanted to proceed with schemes had to bo rro w fund s fro m c o m m e rc ia l ba nks who were very reluctant to lend money for such ‘unproductive’ purposes.” [My emphasis]

“I am a firm believer in private ownership, because it makes for better citizens, and there is no greater barrier against communism.” Senator James Tunney, Labour Party, 1952

“The man of property is ever against revolutionary change. Consequently a factor of the first importance in combating emigration and preventing social unrest, unemployment marches, and so on, is the widest possible diffusion of ownership.” Most Revd Dr. Cornelius Lucey, Bishop of Cork, 1957

1966 Housing Act - allowed local authority tenants in urban areas to purchase their homes - by the early 1990s, 220,000 of the 330,000 public housing units in the state had been sold to

From a housing market to a mortgage market “One of the old ghosts in the residential market was laid to rest this week by Mr. Edmund Farrell, chairman of the Irish Permanent Building Society, when he revealed that the purchase of a new home is not necessarily the biggest single lifetime investment – simply because the average building society mortgage has itself a lifetime of only about ten years. The significance of this information is considerable, and it does much to explain the frenzy of activity both in the residential market and in the £150 million Irish building societies’ movement. If the average mortgage is ‘turned over’ once in a decade, the average man can buy not one, but two

1974 Kenny Report 1975 – Commercial banks enter the mortgage market on a wide scale 1984 Surrender Grant Scheme 1988 – Section 23 Tax Relief reintroduced 1988 – Local autorities bow out of residential mortgage provision 1991/92 – high-point of owner-occupancy in Ireland – 79 per cent. 1999 – Rural Renewal Scheme – Shannon area


“The problem here is that, when one looks at the top 190 debtors in the NAMA universe with debts of €62 billion, a relatively small number of people were chasing the same assets and it was like a Ponzi scheme. They overborrowed and were overlent to by banks. There was huge inflation of asset values and this was not sustainable in the context of the economy. There was a disconnect between the economy growing at 8% or 9% per annum and lending by banks growing at 35% or 40% per year. The problem was caused by overpaying for assets.” Brendan McDonagh, Chief Executive, NAMA, in evidence to the Public Accounts Committee, 26 October 2011

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