What's your name?
Dr. Eoin Drea.
What’s your current job?
Senior Research Officer at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies which is the think tank of the centre right European Peoples Party (EPP).
How long have you held the position?
Nearly five years.
Can you describe your daily work routine?
Very unlikely that any two days are the same in this office – every week is a combination of meetings, speaking at conferences, undertaking workshops with visiting groups or travelling around Europe to work with our member foundations. For example, last week I was in Helsinki for three days and next week in Austria for two days. We have over a dozen nationalities in this office – so it can be a bit hectic! Somewhere in between all that I try to do some of my own research.
What is your professional background?
I worked for nearly seven years as an economist specialising in the Irish commercial property market with a particular focus on the retail sector. I have a BSc (Finance) degree from University College Cork (UCC) and an MA (European Integration) from the University of Limerick. My PhD (also from UCC) looked at the development of the Irish banking system 1922-43. I have lived and worked in Cork, Dublin, London and Brussels.
Tell me about yourself away from work?
We have a four year old daughter so she takes up most of our time here in Brussels as we’re away from family and old friends. She’s in the Dutch school system so my wife and I are trying to learn Dutch! Our daughter is already fluent so we have to catch up! Other than that, it’s the cinema I love!
Tell us something very few people know about you?
I nearly joined the army after school.
You are speaking at the forthcoming National Property Summit in Dublin on the housing crisis. What will be the focus of your talk?
I will argue that the future prospects for the Irish property market are a lot more precarious than people realise. As a small open economy the potential impacts of a “no deal” Brexit or wider global trade wars are underestimated.
I will highlight that rather than learning from the economic crisis of the past decade, the Irish property market of 2018 is once again repeating the mistakes of the pre-2008 period. The obsession with home ownership, the continuing absence of real density in the centre of our bigger towns and cities (including Dublin), the almost complete dependence on private developers to deliver housing stock, the disproportionate importance of U.S. multinational companies to the Irish economy (and the commercial property market) and the inability to build a coherent vision for the future of Irish society (in terms of infrastructure and building patterns) ensures that the Irish property market will continue to be characterised by “boom to bust” cycles in the years ahead.
Finally, I will highlight five indicators which – should they occur – will probably mark the onset of another property crisis in the following years.
What immediate changes are necessary to ‘rebuild Ireland’ and resolve some of the worst effects of the housing crisis?
There are so many it is almost impossible to list them all. But I think the most important are:
1. Get local authorities back building social houses;
2. Total reform of the private rental sector – longer leases, inflation linked rent etc (as here in Belgium);
3. Get local authorities and An Bord Pleanala to consistently implement the draft guidelines on greater building densities;
4. Maintain central bank rules on mortgage lending; and
5. Encourage other alternatives to home ownership.
What changes do you envisage for the sector over the next five years?
There will be very limited changes. History is our best guide and in that respect – the future is not so bright!
Mick Forde Bradley is speaking at the 5th Annual Sunday Business Post Property Summit at the Aviva Stadium on December 5th. Full details are available at www.propertysummit.ie