From Socialist Voice, December 2010

Ghost estates and empty houses


Many counties have more ghost estates than Co. Leitrim—Co. Cork has ninety of them—but Co. Leitrim emerges as Ireland’s champion when the number of empty houses is compared with the population. The director of the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, Rob Kitchin, calculates that 2,945 houses were built in Co. Leitrim between 2006 and 2009, when the growth trend suggested that only 588 would be needed—an oversupply of approximately 400 per cent.
     In 2006, at the height of the boom, construction accounted for almost a quarter of Ireland’s GDP and occupied a fifth of the work force. Bank lending for land and construction rose from €5.5 billion in 1999 to €96.2 billion in 2007—an increase of 1,730 per cent—while house prices doubled in the six years to 2006.

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