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Builders appeal for stimulus package as Celtic Tiger turns tail

The once booming construction sector in Ireland has issued a ‘save our industry’ appeal to the government as the property crash and the credit crunch drive an increasing number of companies in the sector towards bankruptcy.

The plea from the Construction Industry Federation comes as the Irish face their third Budget in just over a year in an increasingly desperate bid to bridge a €16bn gap in the national finances, and as ministers predict the country’s economy will contract by some 6% this year, with unemployment reaching 450,000.

It’s all a far cry from the heady days of the so-called Celtic Tiger economy and its seemingly unstoppable property boom.

One of the main players during that period, millionaire property developer Paddy Kelly whose company was involved in a range of residential, commercial and retail projects and who has acknowledged that he owes a variety of banks hundreds of millions of euros, has told an Irish court that he is exploring the possibility of a bankruptcy procedure.

The CIF fears that other high profile players could follow suit unless the government can be persuaded to provide a stimulus package for the industry.

CIF director-general Tom Parlon, a former Irish government minister, says two measures are particularly urgent – a substantial first-time buyer grant and a residential Stamp Duty holiday to kick-start the housing market.

Parlon recently invited government backbenchers as well as opposition party members to a marathon four-hour lobbying session to emphasise the seriousness of the situation facing the industry in advance of this month’s supplementary Budget.

He told attendees: “Until now, individual members have been reluctant to talk openly but they have recently come to realise that they are fighting for the survival of their companies.

“If we don’t stop the haemorrhaging of thousands of jobs, the industry and the economy will be in jeopardy.”

For some would-be buyers the deepening crisis is as traumatic as it is for builders. More than 100 have been issued with legal writs by developers who are trying to force through deals made at the height of the boom, even though mortgage approvals have now been withdrawn and the buyers involved can no longer afford the homes.

Specialist property solicitor Niamh O’Grady said: “One has to feel sympathy for both sides in this dispute. On one hand, the developers are entitled to seek fulfilment of their contracts, given that they have banks on their backs.

“On the other, if would-be purchasers can’t get the money to buy homes developers have to decide whether they are worth pursuing. There seems to be no easy solution to this dilemma.”

The same could be said about the economic mess left in the wake of the Irish property crash.

US auction company to sell repossessed UK homes

The US’ leading real estate auction company launched its auction business in the UK market at the end of March.

More than 500 bank and lender-repossessed homes in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be sold at five auctions between March 31 to April 5. Auction house REDC details the properties on website auctiontoday.co.uk

The company is making a major investment in its first round of UK auctions with a massive marketing campaign and hundreds of television, press and outdoor advertisements planned. Each auction will be a large-scale event at a major venue with comprehensive on-site assistance available for potential buyers.

Jeffrey Frieden, chief executive officer and co-founder of REDC and auctiontoday.co.uk, said: “Unlike traditional auction houses which have usually restricted their pools of potential buyers to groups of savvy investors, REDC’s model is built on exposing its auction properties to as many consumers in as many markets as possible.


“We believe everyone is entitled to a bargain, not just a select group of professional property investors.”

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