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The forgotten side of construction.

Read more about: Housing, Unemployment     Print This Post

While much of the media have been acting with glea and the other lot with denial there is a big issue that is being ignored. When ever I go home to my local to have a pint the conversation generally turns to construction. Now this is not a D4 type talk of interiors this conversation generally is about practical matters as most of the guys work in construction. Now I have not been back since the recent downturn in the housing market. But with the many recent redundancies around the country, I wonder will a few people be unemployed next time I am home.

Many places especially small towns where many of the locals work in the construction industry suddenly will have a lot of young males unemployed or in danger of being so. With the natural way the “knowledge economy” works most of the people who decided to go to University are not going to end back in a small town, they are moving to Dublin, Cork etc. Leaving behind the farmers and construction. Farming this year is improving for the first time in a while with various food prices going up ( I think milking has been the big winner but open to correction) but with construction falling large scale unemployment of young males is a very real prospect. So what can be done?

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13 Responses to “The forgotten side of construction.”

  1. # Comment by Tomaltach Nov 27th, 2007 11:11

    Absolutely spot on. I come from a village in South Donegal. Construction is by far the biggest employer in the area. There are three building materials suppliers with 15 miles (CRH, ReadyMix, McCaffreys). The number of households which depends on construction in one shape or form is frightening – I mean the building suppliers, plumbers, painters, stone masons, landscaping, plasterers and builders, and so on. And as you say many of those employed in this area will find no other work locally when the inevitable happens. Until recently the big employers in South Donegal were manufacturers. Now the two biggest Magee and Hospira have offshored and shutdown respectively owing to the high costs. In the absence of any other strategy, construction has taken up the slack and now that’s crumbling. And here’s the crunch: despite the chronic failure at a political level to diversify employment in the area, the two sitting Donegal FF TDs, Pat the Cope and Mary Coughlin, both romped home in the election. Sigh.

  2. # Comment by Simon Nov 27th, 2007 20:11

    Thing is tomaltach, it is very unlikely that many rural area’s can supply the needs of manufacturers or anything else in the future. I really can’t see anything but the death of rural Ireland here. Where we go like much of the rest of Europe into City and big town dwellers.

  3. # Comment by Niall Nov 27th, 2007 20:11

    This is Ireland Simon. Rural communities won’t die. They’ll probably just stay on life support for a couple of centuries before the Great Beast comes to kill us all. We’ve still got a considerable number of nomads for Chrissakes, and we’re an island nation.

  4. # Comment by Simon Nov 27th, 2007 21:11

    but unlike other island nations and we never developed ninja’s why?

  5. # Comment by Gordon Davies Nov 27th, 2007 23:11

    Yet it was Breakfast Roll Man, many of whom work in construction, who voted back the FINAcial FAILures. It has long been known that over dependance on construction was a major weakness in the Irish economy, and would lead to great hardship… for everyone but the developers and their tame politicians.

    Fianna Fail has wasted the economic benefits of a unique period in Irish economic history. Rather than investing in infrastructure, training, education and research (aka “the knowledge economy”) FF preferred to create a property bubble that will soon burst.

    Gordon

  6. # Comment by Niall Nov 27th, 2007 23:11

    Oh we invented ninjas. They’re just that damn good that nobody knows they exist. Next time your sock goes missing, or documents are mysteriously destroyed at the high court, you’ll know who to blame.

  7. # Comment by simon Nov 28th, 2007 10:11

    Gordon life in rural Ireland does not work that way. Growing up prior to the boom many people I went to school with wanted to go into trades, from a very young age that is what they wanted to do, to follow in the parents footsteps, no amount of training or upskill or infrastructure would change that fact. To blame that on this current FF government is terribly nieve and useless this is something that is stemming back generations.

    An IT company 10 times out of ten is going to chose a big city or town to set up not some rural back water that simple cannot attract the staff. Simple as.

  8. # Comment by Tomaltach Nov 28th, 2007 10:11

    I think the intertia of continued urbanisation is likely put more pressure on the sustainability of rural life. Rural Ireland cannot hope to eke out an existance against these forces unless a coherent strategy for diversification is put in place. What I mean is that there’d be a more thoughtful harnassing of tourist potential (like letting hill walkers on the land, stopping the killing of stocks in the rivers, transport infrastructure, co-operation on local tourism stragies, etc), sensible spatial strategy (as opposed to a decentralisation plan that is stopped and in effect, no spatial strategy or balanced regional development), more structured co-operation in rural communities, investment in moderate sized towns and so on. One can imagine ways which would at least extend the lifetime of vibrant rural communities. But this requires a kind of vision, determination and civic mindedness that is absent from all other aspects of Irish life, so it is unlikely to miraculously sprout now. Most of us urbans probably don’t care too much whether rural Ireland survives or not. Personally I hope it does. I really enjoy the countryside and I prefer visiting vibrant communities rather than dormant villages. Besides, with 40% of our population still rural and our cities already unable to cope with their growth, the last thing we need is an accelarated drift of the remaining rural population into the cities.

  9. # Comment by barry Nov 28th, 2007 11:11

    Apropos the food/agric bit. Yes the prices are rising but the EU, who is the major ‘client’ i.e. pays the money, hasn’t said ‘ok lads, the market is there go and sell them stuff’ There was some EC git at a conf last week who said the markets were better but then said that the present regime of the cheque in the post, whatever your circumstances will be continued…..

    The rural community will be fine….. the taxpayers will continue to fund a large part of it.

  10. # Comment by Tomaltach Nov 28th, 2007 11:11

    I think we are often unfair to rural Ireland. There’s an attitude that somehow the people who live there are spongers. Farm incomes depend heavily on subsidy, fair enough. But farmers themselves and their subsidies are both being squeezed out. And we should remember there is a reason why food was subsidised in the first place. And note, the last census shows 40% of the population are rural dwellers, that’s about 1.6m people. Scarcely 200,000 (perhaps half that) are full time farmers. So the vast bulk of that 1.6m are not that heavily subsidised. We tend to be far less critical of subsidies for urban dwellers. Who paid for the luas, the m50, the port tunnel? What about the massive tax breaks for MNCs which are largely urban based? You get the picture. Basically, it’s unfair to view rural life as being sponging on the state. In fact the real challenge is to create a rural life which is sustainable and no more subsidized than urban life. That is not easy because of the issues mentioned in previous posts, and all because of economies of scale. But its foolish to suggest that state spending on rural Ireland should be turned off like a tap and everyone be herded in to the cities.

  11. # Comment by Barry Nov 28th, 2007 11:11

    I am a rural dweller!! I don’t ‘object’ I just want a level surface, you get the cheque based on the 2004 situation, you needn’t have done anything since, just be a farmer…..

    Anyway, the white knight of the EU is riding to the rescue…

    http://euobserver.com/9/25231/?rk=1

    says that the EU is dropping the (10% or so) tariff on imported grain…. wow, that will make a BIG difference….

  12. # Comment by Donna O'Sullivan Apr 20th, 2009 14:04

    The above article & comments have been a great help to me, I am a first yr civil engineering student in CIT..writing an essay on ”The current state of the Irish construction industry, its effect on the Irish economy & how the situation is to be rectified. ” Wide range of opinions here,good source for students. :)

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