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‘over-zealous’ residential fire safety and the market… June 19, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.


A letter in the IT this week took RTÉ to task for not selling all its Montrose site. It argues that:

My astonishment is not related to the amount quoted in your article, but rather the opportunity cost associated with the national broadcaster continuing to remain on this prime city centre site, and that it plans to “invest the proceeds of the sale to help fund an upgrade of the remainder of its Donnybrook complex”.

The fact that a moribund State organisation continues to occupy land that is ripe for development highlights the role Government involvement in the property market plays in exacerbating the housing shortage we are currently experiencing in the capital.

Not sure that one follows from the other – and by the by, Ed Vulliamy in the Observer at the weekend made the excellent point that what are now termed ‘developers’ were once known by the rather more accurate, though unlovely, term ‘property speculators’.

But perhaps this next says it all, about the ideological  position of many of these sort of arguments…

Instead of clamouring for the state to do more to solve the housing crisis, perhaps people should be urging it to do less.


A private company would never countenance such an inefficient use of resources, and would have sold out and relocated sometime ago. This wasteful phenomenon combined with the unnecessary restrictions on high rise developments and the over-zealous residential fire-safety regulations are all State-sponsored impediments to the normal functioning of the property market.

Over zealous residential fire safety regulations? It’s all in there isn’t it? Red tape, state interference in the working of ‘markets’, etc, etc. Perhaps it is intended to be parody? Perhaps not.

And the reality that what is needed is not RTÉ selling off Donnybrook – or at least that that is a complete diversion but rather what is needed is a state house building programme, is evaded. Because we know that without its societal and economic heft the market will not and cannot supply housing.

Just on fire safety, another letter in the same edition notes that:

In the Republic of Ireland, the design of apartment buildings is independently certified as being compliant with the relevant building regulations by the local authority by means of a fire safety certificate.

However, people don’t live in “designs”. They live in built developments and there is currently no independent inspection or certification required for the construction of apartments, something the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland has been calling for since the introduction of the new building control system.

Unless such a measure is introduced, the Government will not be able to say “We did everything we could” should a tragedy like the terrible London fire occur here.

No room for complacency there. Sounds like too little state rather than too much.


1. Jim Monaghan - June 19, 2017

Mind you, RTE could move. A new campus say in Kildare and a subsidiary one say in Sligo.


WorldbyStorm - June 19, 2017

A move might do them good! But not for the reasons articulated in that letter.


2. 6to5against - June 19, 2017

I love this type of argument about state bodies. Essentially, the logic is that reducing costs is the only issue that should be considered in any decision.

But the contrast with the private sector sort of undermines the argument doesn’t it? I can think of a number of private companies occupying prime real estate not so far from RTE. The Bank of Ireland and AIB both spring to mind. As does Google. And Facebook. And…..


WorldbyStorm - June 19, 2017

+1 That’s very true.

I worked for the best part of a decade in a group of companies that occupied a spot on the southside that is now an Aldi. Total prime real estate – and the thing was it was ideal for the boss of bosses because he owned that outright. It was a permanent means of raising funds.

Montrose is a little bit different but given the person who penned the above letter doesn’t actually believe in state action they’re hardly in a position to mount a use case analysis for how it might assist the state in alleviating the housing crisis.


3. Jim Monaghan - June 20, 2017

On an aside. I had dealing with a company on Pearse St. English owned. New manager sent over. He tolf me t hat they could make more money selling and putting the money in the Post Office. It is now an apartment block. Of as wbs has said not connected to the original pot. But I think balanced developemnt needs to consider some moves out of Dublin. TH4 has done wonders for the Gaeltachts. And a lot of spin offs. Maybe a move of RTE to say Drogheda/Newbridge and a strong facitity in the West woudl help. With modern telecommunications many people and industries do not need to be in Dublin at all. RET should be aware of these developments.


4. Ed - June 20, 2017

A ‘moribund state organisation’ – far be it from me to defend RTÉ, but as far as I can recall, the costs it has imposed on the taxpayer (licence payer, strictly speaking) are fairly modest compared with the cost of the bank/property bailout. I would have thought a private industry that can only survive thanks to a multi-billion euro handout from the state was the very definition of ‘moribund’, but now I learn they’re all swashbuckling entrepreneurs held back by the dead hand of government interference. The poor darlings.


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