Bertie finally wakes up on housing

THE house builders of Ireland have an annual conference – it’s called the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis.

This is where a very small number of wealthy people plan the rip-off of young people for the 25 best years of their lives and organise the political means to make it happen.

Fianna Fail have a conflict of interest here. On the one hand they are bankrolled by property developers who pay to cover every pole in ireland with Bertie posters come election time.

On the other hand they are voted in by young people who need to buy homes and their parents (who increasingly have to put up the deposit).

To date Fianna Fail have always favoured the developers.

Now Bertie says that he will support a constitutional referendum that will allow, more or less, the compulsory purchase of land at realistic prices.

I wonder if it is finally dawning on those in charge that the deification of private property is an economic and social disaster for Ireland.

And when I say property I mean land. That is, the surface of the earth.

I’ve often wondered how land can be ‘owned’. After all, no human was responsible for putting it there.

I ‘own’ a little plot of land in Palmerstown where my house is built. How did I come by this land? I bought it from someone else. Who bought it from someone else, presumably. And so on until we get to the man who originally put a fence around the land and said ‘that’s mine’.

Before this, the land must have been commonage. So he stole it. Probably using violence. And so we are all dealers in stolen property.

But I digress.

No one can say for sure what proportion of a new house price is in the ground it is standing on. We do know from land sales that it can be anything up to €150,000.

We also know it wouldn’t be anywhere near that price if there was more of land available.

And finally we know that there are huge tracts of land in the hands of developers that they are simply sitting on. Until the price goes up.

This land should be taken from these developers at nominal prices.

There is a very dangerous bubble developing in Ireland. The only people who can afford houses are those who already have houses. They buy the inflatedly -priced house by borrowing on their own inflatedly-priced houses.

This could end in tears for those involved and involves tears on a daily basis for those who are priced out of the right to own their own home.

The cost of land also damages the economy. We can’t afford motorways or railways or civic buildings or sports grounds. The constitution should distinguish between personal private property and commercial private property.

Bertie seems to have finally seen the light. But do we really need a referendum?

I ask again. If we can zone a field as a park, thus rendering it worthless, why can’t we zone land for housing?

Political will, that’s why