The people behind the housing crisis in Ireland


After six years of massive house price increases it is now almost impossible for the average worker to buy a house in Ireland. Average house prices in Ireland rose from 11.3 times the average income in 1989 to 18.2 times income in 1999. The increases in rent and house prices have, for many workers, completely wiped out any gain made from tax cuts in our take home pay. And for the poorest and most vulnerable sections of the working class the housing crisis is becoming a disaster as the rapidly growing number of young people sleeping on the streets demonstrates.

The other side of the coin is a handful of people making enormous sums of money out of it. At the top a tiny group of ten individuals (see box below) own almost all the land in Dublin that is zoned for housing. Their 7,000 acres are worth £3 billion, a figure that has been increasing by 20% every year. By simply sitting on this land these individuals are becoming 20% richer every year. In 1998 55% of the cost of an average new house in Dublin went to the landowner/developer.

The Flood tribunal has named some of the politicians who have taken tens of thousands of pounds in bribes from developers connected to land zonings and planning permissions in Dublin. Although a big fuss has been made about 'corruption' in reality this is the system functioning as it is meant to, politicians representing business while pretending to represent their electorate.

We Name the Greedy bastards


The people

Their wealth

How many houses could be built on their land

Mick and Tom Bailey (Bovale Developments)

£400 million each

2,000 in North Dublin and large holdings in Meath

Joe Moran (Manor Park homes)

£100 million

9,000 houses in Dublin, with large sites in Cork and Drogheda.

Gerry Gannon

£60 million

800 acres, mainly around Howth and Malahide.

Mick Whelan (Maplewood Homes)


Plans a 5,000 home development on 500 acres near Lucan

Joseph Reilly and Liam May (Castlethorn Construction)

£120 million

Capacity for 7,000 in Dublin and Meath

Michael Cotter (Park Homes)


300 acres scattered around the outskirts of greater Dublin

Sean Mulryan (Ballymore properties)

£1 billion

Property in Dublin and 700 acres in towns countrywide

Liam Carroll (Zoe Developments)

£65 million

Up to 1,000 apartments and townhouses.


Figures from a range of sources including 'Business and Finance', 13th January 2000, who complain that property "players try to keep a very low profile"

This article is from Workers Solidarity 60 - September 2000

Download the PDF file of WS 60