Public Private Plundering - McNamara abandons social housing


So building social housing is "not viable" for the profiteers at construction firm Michael McNamara & Co. What they really mean is that they've got themselves in a bit of a sticky situation by riddling the country with overpriced and unsustainable housing developments and the profits from the "Public Private Partnership" aren't sufficient to get them out of it.But what would you expect when you abandon the construction of social housing to the profit motive. The last government scheme similarly failed. They tried to get developers to set aside a small percentage of new developments for social housing, got scared when their building buddies kicked up a fuss, and let them buy their way out of any obligations.

But of course "Public Private Partnerships" are usually really successful. Tell that to all the commuters being fleeced every morning and evening having to fork out for privately built toll roads.

There was never any partnership in the first place. All it results in is the plundering of taxpayers money to help make profits for big business. When the natural objections to the co-location of private hospitals on public land were voiced, the government harped on about how they couldn't break their contractual obligations with big business. No such worries for McNamara & Co. It's "not viable". Bye bye.

While I agree with the tone and content of what is written above with regard to the rip-off of public resoutces that PPPs constitute. But I think it's wrong to say that the developers have "pulled out because they have a bit of a sticky situation by riddling the country with overpriced and unsustainable housing developments and the profits from the "Public Private Partnership" aren't sufficient to get them out of it."

It needs to be pointed out that McNamaras are one of the biggest building developers in the state and are one of those who have made massive amounts of money on the backs of ordinary people in 'Celtic Tiger' Ireland. Bernard McNamara, head of the company, (who - not so coincidentally - was one of those hollering around the Dail Bar last week when Cowen was elected Taoiseach) has a personal wealth of €230million. The company had a turnover of €611million last year. Among the projects they are working on now are the €450million Elm Park residential and commercial development in Dublin 4, a 45-storey tower in Canary Wharf in London, the Burlington Hotel and a large apartment development in Galway. No sign of him to pull out of any of these projects I bet!

My read of what is happening here is that he's playing hardball with the Council. They've put all their eggs in the McNamara basket and he knows he can dictate terms. By saying it's 'not viable' to complete these projects, what he means is not that he's likely to lose money but that he won't be able to make the huge 'Celtic Tiger' profits he expected to do when he was first awarded the project by Dublin City Council. But he also knows that the Council will now come under pressure from the residents' groups and local councillors to 'do something' and so he'll be able to re-open negotaitions with them and come to better terms. Don't be surprised if that includes an increase in the number of private apartments in Dominic Street, a prime city centre location, and a 'derogation' of some sort from the Council's new regulations on the size of apartments.

An interesting point was made by Finbar Flood, chair of the St Michaels Estate Regeneration project on Morning Ireland this morning (BTW This is the same Finbar Flood who was formerly Chair of the Labour Court and Managing Director of Guinness Breweries - so he could hardly be described as a radical lefty). If McNamara had begun the redevelopment 5 or 6 years ago (as they were supposed to have) and had ended up as a result of the Celtic Tiger making €50 or €100 million extra profit, would they have handed that windfall back to the Council or the local residents saying 'we didn't expect to make this..' We all know the answer to that question but when the boot is on the other foot...

Anyway it's made my blood boil all day, especially because I see on a daily basis the social cost involved for many families living in the hell-hole that is Dominic Street flats at the moment