Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Irish Hope to be Bankrupt for Christmas...

‘Hope to be bankrupt for Christmas’: Irish mortgage debtors see insolvency as way out...

With one in five mortgage payments being overdue in Ireland and families across the country having their homes repossessed, some of the debtors are hoping for bankruptcy to do away with their endless fear of losing their properties.

Julia Godsill, a Dubliner, can hardly hold back her tears, when retelling her not uncommon mortgage saga to RT’s Tesa Arcilla. When she bought her house the Irish economy was still the “Celtic Tiger” enjoying its boom time. After the credit crunch of 2008, Julia could only watch as her mortgage became too high for her to be able to pay, while the value of her house itself went down.

“I ended up with a cash offer for 500,000. This was in 2011. And I was delighted. But the banks refused to accept the offer because the mortgage was 800,000 climbing with arrears. They preferred to bring me to court, and repossess the house instead.”

The Central Bank of Ireland figures, released on November 28, show Julia could be one of at least 141,520 homeowners in arrears on their residential mortgage loans. That means roughly 20 percent of Irish mortgagees are living in fear of losing their homes.

“I could barely put one foot in front of the other because I couldn't sleep at night,” Julia describes her mortgage distress. “I thought about things, I got up and then I went back to bed again, and I couldn't do anything at all. All I could think about was this debt! And I had no way out,” Julia Godsill tells RT.

Homeless organization, Focus Ireland, estimates that 16 families are losing their homes each month in the capital.

Finding oneself out in the streets is particularly bitter as Ireland is officially recovering. The country’s three-year-long EU-IMF bailout came to an end in December. The Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, acknowledged in his address to the nation, that “the recent improvements in the economic situation have not yet been felt” in everybody’s daily lives.

He urged the banks to review their policies.

“We will require the banking system to become a contributor to the economy, rather than a huge drain on it. The banks must do more to deal with mortgage distress and to provide access to credit for small business,” Kenny said.

Much tougher criticism of the banks came from the Irish Mortgage Holders Association, an NGO, trying to help in-debt homeowners not to lose their properties.

“The banks have had a catastrophic effect on day to day activity in Ireland, on business,” David Hall, NGO’s director, told RT. “They've paralyzed the entire nation. They have failed to deal with the mortgage debt crisis by coming up with creative solutions.”

The bursting of the Irish real estate bubble in 2008 was a real blow to Irish banks heavily dependent on property lending. Although the banks’ policies had been widely criticized, the major ones were eventually bailed out by the government.

“We can measure how much the bailout has cost us in monetary terms, we have never evaluated how much this has cost us in emotional and mental health terms,” Hall said.

The emotional cost appears to be high enough to make Julia Godsill actually wish for bankruptcy, simply to put an end to her mortgage nightmare.

“I’m hoping to be bankrupt for Christmas. [Laughs.] I know it’s mad. And the reason why I’m hoping to be bankrupt for Christmas is that I can start again. Let me become what I was before.”

Bankruptcy might indeed now become a way out for Irish homeowners. According to a new law, which was passed in December under the Personal Insolvency Act, a person would automatically be discharged from bankruptcy after three years, as opposed to the current 12-year term. Bankruptcy thus becomes less punitive and costly and is a glimmer of hope for those caught up in the mortgage trap.

Report from RT

Thursday, 19 September 2013

A Video Of Ireland's Prettiest Ghost Estate...

A Souvineer of the Irish Property Bubble...

Not all of Ireland’s ghost estates are half built and ugly - some have a certain this scheme in rural Waterford.

No attention to detail was spared by developer Pat McCoy whan he built the estate in the village of Stradbally, Co Waterford. Tucked away at the top of a hill leading up from the village green are 15 chocolate-box thatched cottages. 

Enjoy this video of Ireland's prettiest Ghost Estate !

See the "Pretty Ghost Estate" story !

(Thanks to David for sharing this video)

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Thousands Face Repossession Under New Law...

A NEW law allowing banks to repossess homes and investment properties comes into operation today.

Thousands of homeowners and investors are expected to be threatened with having their properties seized.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter signed a statutory instrument which puts the provisions of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2013 into operation.

Banks had been unable to threaten repossessions following a ruling in the High Court in 2011. The new legislation overcomes the so-called Dunne judgment that put a block on repossessions.

Now many of the more than 54,000 residential homeowners who are more than a year in arrears face the real threat of repossession.

Banks are likely to try to take ownership of around 30,000 buy-to-lets that are in arrears. Almost half of these mortgages are having only the interest payments made on them.

Davy Stockbrokers has estimated that up to 43,700 letters threatening repossession have been issued by banks, despite their being unable to pursue cases over the past two years.

David Hall, director of the Irish Mortgage Holders' Organisation (IMHO), said he expected a flood of repossession applications.


"There will be chaos," he said. "I expect banks to take advantage of this, which will only add to the nightmare experienced by mortgage holders in the past few years."

He added that the Land and Conveyancing Act allowed for a repossession case to be adjourned so a homeowner and the bank can negotiate a personal insolvency arrangement through a personal insolvency practitioner (Pip).

But he said the new Personal Insolvency Service had yet to approve Pips, and it would be next month before it was in a position to accept applications for debt deals.

Mr Hall called on banks to direct anyone facing repossession to his organisation to see if a deal to keep families in their homes could be reached. IMHO has 1,700 distressed mortgage holders on its books.

The new legislation comes only months after Ulster Bank sent out letters threatening to take back their homes. It has claimed that more than a third of its mortgage-holders are making no payments.

Earlier this month, it told investors in London that it saw much evidence of "strategic defaulting". This is where people can meet their home-loan payments but choose to use the money for something else. The bank said it was going to the courts to seek repossessions.

Report by CHARLIE WESTON - Irish Independent

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Home Repossessions To Surge...

A surge in the number of home repossessions is on the cards after the Central Bank decided to change the rules.

Debt-ravaged homeowners will no longer have one year's protection from having their houses repossessed.
The 12-month ban on banks taking back properties from homeowners in arrears is being cut to two months.
The move and other changes to regulatory rules for how struggling borrowers should be treated by lenders have been condemned by David Hall, of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation, as a "banker's charter" that will lead to a spike in repossession.
He claimed: "The banking dogs are set to be unleashed on mortgage holders in arrears."
The move to change the Central Bank's code of conduct on mortgage arrears – a rule book for how banks are to treat borrowers behind on their payments – is to be radically changed.
The revised code is set to come into operation from next Thursday with a number of changes that banks have lobbied to have put in place.
The most controversial change is the dropping of the 12-month moratorium on repossessions of homes if borrowers are in arrears but are co-operating with their lender.
The one-year period starts 31 days after the homeowner goes into arrears.
Instead, the moratorium will effectively be just two months.
Homeowners who are in arrears and are made an offer by the bank but turn it down will be given just two months' protection from legal proceedings.
And distressed homeowners who have no offer made to them by their bank – because the lender feels they can no longer afford the mortgage – will also get just two months' protection from repossession proceedings being issued.
Those who have an arrangement in place with their bank will have nothing to fear, a regulatory source said.
Other changes to the revised code include giving banks the power to take trackers off homeowners who are given a debt write-off.
Banks will no longer be restricted to three unsolicited contacts to those in arrears, according to Mr Hall, who attended a briefing on the new code.
Banks will also get to define who is an uncooperative borrower – allowing lenders to take repossession action against these homeowners.
The grounds for appealing a restructuring offer from the bank will also be restricted.
The move to lift the 12-month moratorium on home repossessions was advocated by Brendan Burgess of "Some people will use the 12-month moratorium to bury their head in the sand and not face up to their responsibilities," he said.
The Central Bank had no comment yesterday.
The moratorium was extended from six to 12 months for those in arrears early in 2011.

Report by CHARLIE WESTON - Irish Independent

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Property Prices Fall Again...

Property prices fall again but pace eases...

PROPERTY prices fell again last month, new figures out today show.

Prices were down 0.5pc in March but this was a slower fall than in the previous month, according to the Central Statistics Office.

In the year to March the fall was 3pc nationally.

Dublin prices were 1.4pc higher than a year ago, despite a 0.8pc fall in March.

Prices have now halved countrywide since the peak of the housing boom in 2007.

Dublin prices are down 56pc, with those in the rest of the country down by 49pc.

Although the pace of price falls have eased, the latest figures mean recovery in prices is still some way off.

Report by CHARLIE WESTON - Irish independent

Monday, 1 April 2013

Billions Lost In Property Crash...

Property crash wipes €257bn off value of homes in six years...

IRELAND'S homeowners have collectively lost an estimated €257bn in property value in the six years since the market began to crumble, the Irish Independent can reveal.

The 50pc collapse in value since the peak of 2007 also means that by the Central Bank's own estimates, Ireland's crash has now become the worst experienced by any country in the world.
The combined loss to the owners of Irish residential properties since the bubble burst equates to almost four times Ireland's total bailout sum of €67.5bn and more than half the total amount of money first set aside in the European Union's €500bn Financial Stability Facility.
The PTSB/ESRI Index, Ireland's former national price barometer, showed average house prices standing at €310,632 at the start of 2007.
An estimated drop of 50pc in value puts the average loss to an Irish household at €155,316.
With 1.6 million households across the country, that is a combined loss of more than €257bn.
Not everyone who owned property suffered anything near the same scale of loss in value. While those renting out their homes avoided a hit, multiple property owners, such as landlords and local authorities, experienced the biggest losses on residential values.
This time last year, the Central Bank marked Ireland out as having suffered the second worst crash in the world after Japan's, which stood at 49pc.
The year since the report was published has seen some house prices stabilise or even increase in parts of Dublin, but most continued to fall. It means we have now overtaken Japan's 1991 collapse.
However, if some critics of the Central Statistics Office (CSO) system are correct, then the average property capital value losses per household could be even higher.
Some say the price-measuring system has built in delays because it tracks sales from the point of mortgage draw-down rather than when the sale actually takes place – often a three-month gap – and it does not factor in cash transactions, which are likely to be cheaper.
Conall Mac Coille, chief economist with Davy, recently claimed that Irish values could have already shed as much as 60pc. If this were true, then the average property has lost €186,379 in value, and the nationwide equivalent loss in property value is, in fact, €310bn.
Prices first began falling in parts of Dublin in the second half of 2006, though the lack of a publicly accessible property price register meant that the phenomenon was not widely known or reported until early in 2007. However, it took until 2008 before falling prices became a reality throughout all rural locations.
Many experts believe that the recovery will spread out gradually from Dublin in the same way the crash did.
The latest figures show Dublin prices up 2.5pc on the year to January, though nationwide prices were down 3.3pc.
This compares with 4.5pc down for the year to December 2012 and with 17.4pc down for the year to January 2012.
The CSO estimates Dublin prices are 54pc lower than at the beginning of 2007 and apartments are 61pc cheaper.
Report by MARK KEENAN - Irish independent

Thursday, 28 March 2013

More Property Porn...

We're being seduced by property porn again – will we ever learn?

LAST week the "glossy brigade" was out in force. Papers were full of bright, impossibly blue skies, over "imposing" homes many of which "boasted" this feature or that attribute. Yes, the glossy brigade, Ireland's property pornographers, who pedal lifestyle fetishes to the middle classes are back at a newspaper close to you.

Amazingly, just six years after a property crash, which destroyed much of the economy, chatter about house prices appears to be back, or at least, out of social quarantine. Any day soon, expect a new TV programme on house hunting, the joys of home makeovers or the allure of trading up.
Why do we allow ourselves to be taken in by this nonsense? Every spring since the crash, the estate agents and the property industry have tried to re-launch the property market with puff pieces, hard selling and gimmicks.
Yet underneath the hype, the evidence from the housing market, published yesterday tells a significant story.
Since the pre-Christmas spinning about property, in February prices fell for the third month in a row. Prices are down 2.6pc on the year.
So much for the talk about the recovery in the domestic economy which spilled out from the huge marketing push of so-called "Ireland Inc" in the US around St Patrick's Day.
The reality is the house price index has just experienced its largest monthly decline since January 2012. House prices fell 1.6pc between January and February.
But when you look a bit closer, you see a tale of two markets. In Dublin, property prices fell 0.3pc in February but are up 3pc on the year. Outside the capital, prices continued to slide, falling 2.1pc month-on-month and a nasty 6.1pc decline since this time last year.
The Dublin market is showing the early signs of decoupling from the rest of the country. Outside Dublin, house prices are still weak and in the past two months have weakened further.
There are simply too many houses in the wrong part of the country where people don't want or can't afford to live at today's prices. So what will happen? Prices will continue to flatline or fall.
The first thing to appreciate is just how dramatic the fall has been. Overall house prices are down by just over 50pc across the board and in Dublin prices are down 56pc from peak to trough.
If you want to see the recession, look no further. Because so many people were convinced by the 'glossy brigade' to see housing as a wealth generating exercise, the flip side of the fall in houses prices is a massive increase in debts relative to assets.
Billions of euros of household "wealth" have been destroyed by this collapse in houses prices, yet the debt remains. And the more house prices fall outside Dublin the more the debt relative to assets rises. And what the banks are about to do – which is to accelerate house selling in order to clear their books – is going to make the situation worse. In economics, this is called the paradox of deleveraging.
When the bank and the home-owner sit down as is now envisaged in the personal insolvency process unveiled last week, the bank tells the client to sell the property. This makes the individual debtor's balance sheet better. But this is only the case if he sells and no one else does. But what happens when the banks are sitting down with everyone and telling them all to sell (repossession by another word) at the same time?
Obviously all prices fall. Therefore the very act of trying to pay back debt quickly puts the debtor in a position whereby he has more debt relative to his assets rather than less debt.
This is likely to be the ultimate consequence of the Government's efforts to bring the housing/banking crisis to a close. Prices outside Dublin, where the vast majority of new houses in new estates were bought during the boom in counties surrounding the capital, are likely to fall further.
In contrast, some parts of Dublin – south Dublin and older areas in the capital – are witnessing a mini-boom where there are not enough properties and there is no more space to build. We are seeing what might be described as the 'Knightsbridge and Kensington' effect in this part of the Dublin market. Over the years in London, even in severe property slumps, Knightsbridge and Kensington tend not to lose their value, or if they do, these areas rebound quickly.
But the question for the country and the economy remains: is this a good thing? Is a recovery of the housing market in Dublin a good development?
The unambiguous answer is no. Property destroys economies, good money chases unproductive investments and banks revert to type.
We all know that is going to happen. We have seen this before. The banks will start at the usual again, despite the slump, as they compete with each other to lend to 'sure bet' customers again. As trophy house prices rise, they will begin to look for less and less collateral and will, yet again, get involved in the property racket. Leopards don't change their spots.
In order to prevent this two-tier market developing and the banks again driving up property prices, the central bank could act. The key to house price rises is collateral. If the banks lend a percentage of today's price, then the rise in prices becomes self-reinforcing. Each rise begets new larger loans and so on.
What if instead of lending against today's price, the banks were forced to lend against the average house price for the last 30 years.
House prices would never rise dramatically. There would be no boom or busts and the housing market would never again distort the economy.
Now's the time to do it, when the property cheerleaders are still relatively muted and when the collective memory is still traumatised by the last boom.
If Dublin decouples from the rest of the country on a permanent basis, it will reinforce wealth divisions, with one section of the population struggling with too much debt and not enough income.
Another smaller, but influential part of the population will find their wealth underpinned by rising property prices. If that were the upshot of the past six years of economic trauma, it would be a lamentable result for all of us.
Report by DAVID MCWILLIAMS - Irish Independent

Friday, 22 March 2013

Ghost Estates - Haunted By New Tax...

Thousands of 'ghost estate' residents will now fall into tax net...

THOUSANDS of homeowners living in unfinished developments will be hit with property tax bills from the summer.

People living in estates which were classed as "seriously problematic" just four months ago will be forced to pay the tax after the Department of the Environment decided they did not qualify for a waiver.
Last year, some 1,322 housing estates containing 43,000 homes were considered exempt from the household charge because essential works needed to be carried out.
The Government has now decided that just 421 estates, with about 5,100 households, will not have to pay the property tax.
Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan defended the move, saying that essential works, including public lighting, water treatment systems, roads and open spaces, had been provided in many estates since last summer.
The reduction in those qualifying for a waiver showed that progress was being made in tackling the problem of unfinished developments, she said.
"It does show there has been an improvement in a significant number of estates. We've been keeping the pressure on the various interests including developers, NAMA and local authorities to get things done," she told the Irish Independent.
"Part of the figure (of 1,322 exempt housing developments) was made up of estates which had no occupied houses. It would have been disingenuous to have listed them as exempt. The others would be ones where work has been done.

"I have no reason, as minister, to have not presented accurate figures. We got the figures from local authorities. I have seen estates where a small amount of work was needed, which would take the entire estate out of the seriously problematic category. The ones still in the category are still the worse ones, and are still unresolved."
The tax is calculated on the value of the property and is self-assessed by the owner. Some 180,000 demand letters have already been sent.
But questions remain as to why so many homes are no longer deemed exempt, given that the Government has only made €5m available to local authorities to improve estates, while NAMA has spent €3m improving around 180 developments it controls.
The decision to take the additional thousands of homes into the property tax net was also defended by Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, who insisted it was "fair".
But the move was criticised during Leader's Questions in the Dail by Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath, who said that only one in eight of those who had a property tax exemption would keep it.
Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said households living in unfinished ghost estate and "building sites" had suffered significant stress.
Rebel Labour TD Colm Keaveney said many people had seen no improvement works carried out in their unfinished estates over the past year – yet were now expected to pay the tax.
"People are furious because the councils never came to fix the lights, the footpaths and the services. Pat Rabbitte said that work had been carried out. Show me the work," he said.
Separately, the Campaign Against Home and Water Taxes has announced a day of protests tomorrow, with demonstrations planned in Dublin, Kildare, Louth, Cork, Wicklow, Limerick, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, Carlow, Galway and Laois.
Report by PAUL MELIA AND MICHAEL BRENNAN - Irish independent

Friday, 8 March 2013

Guide To Calculating New Property Tax...

Homeowners' guide to calculating and paying the new tax...

From next week 1.9 million homeowners will start getting letters from the Revenue outlining how they are to pay a new local property tax which is to replace the household charge that was introduced two budgets ago.

Property tax? But I paid a fortune in stamp duty when I bought my house at the height of the boom. Surely I can’t owe more money on a property that is now worth half of what I paid for it?

Yes you can. The Government, has decided to ignore the massive amounts of money it collected from us in property-related stamp duty over the last decade or so and start on a blank page when it comes to property tax.

The good news (for the Government) is that it should raise €500 million a year from the new tax.

How much will this one cost me? 

Well it depends on where you live, but the good news is that the majority of people will be expected to pay less than €500 a year thanks to the all but total collapse of the Irish property market in recent years – a case of every cloud and all that.

There are 20 tax bands of €50,000 which go up as far as €1 million.

If your property is deemed to be worth more than that, the bands are dispensed with and you pay tax on the actual value of the property.

A band of €50,000 is a lot and there is a difference between €200,001 and €250,000. How is the tax worked out?

The rate is at the mid-range of each €50,000 bracket, so if your house is valued at either €210,000 or €245,000 the tax assessment will be based on €225,000.

I still don’t know how much it is going to cost me. 

Patience. The tax is going to be charged at 0.18 per cent of the value of the property up to that €1 million mark, with a rate of 0.25 per cent being attached to all sums over that figure.

About 90 per cent of Irish houses are now estimated to be worth less than €300,000 which will see the tax liability for most people coming in at €50 a month or less.

Only half the tax is payable for 2013.

Break the numbers down for me. 

If your house is worth between €200,001 and €250,000 you pay 0.18 per cent of €225,000, or €405 in a full year.

If your house is worth €500,000 you will end up paying €945 a year.

If you are lucky enough to own a house that is worth €1 million, you will be hit with a tax bill of €1,755.

On the other hand, if your house is worth between €150,001 and €200,000, you can expect to pay €315 a year.

I don’t have an extra fiver a month once all my bills are taken care of. What if I can’t afford it?

There will be some circumstances in which some people will be allowed to defer the tax. There will be three tests for people applying for deferrals.

The first is a straightforward income test.

If your gross income does not exceed €15,000 for a single person or €25,000 for a couple and you have no mortgage, you can defer the payment.

If you are in that income bracket and you have a mortgage, you can add 80 per cent of the gross mortgage interest repayments to that income ceiling.

You can also apply for a partial deferral if, as a single person, you earn no more than €25,000, or €35,000 for a couple.

Tax deferred accrues interest. For example, if you owe €206 at the end of this year, that becomes, with interest, €215 in 2014 and €228 in 2015.

Deferral will also be considered if someone is suffering “excessive hardship”, which applies if a person has suffered a significant financial loss or incurred a significant expense. Neither of these phrases is properly defined in the new law.

Homeowners in a debt settlement or insolvency arrangement may also qualify for a deferral for the duration of that agreement.

There is also a three-year deferral for people handling the estates of deceased people.

Is anyone fully exempt? 

Yes, but very few people.

Properties bought from developers since the beginning of this year will be exempt until 2016 if they have not yet been lived in.

People who have had to vacate a property, bought as their home, because of long-term illness are exempt, while people who own a house in ghost estates will not have to pay the tax.

Properties used by charities have been excluded once they are used for recreational purposes, while homes adapted for use by people with disabilities could be exempt if the property was grant-aided by the local authority.

Some householders whose homes are affected by pyrite will be exempt for three years.

I don’t fall into any of those categories but I don’t want to pay. What are my options?

None. Unlike the €100 household charge which many people put on the long finger or ignored, this tax will be policed much more assiduously.

If you don’t pay it, the Revenue has all manner of ways to get it from you.

It has the power to deduct it from your wages or have it taken out of your pension. It can go after your bank accounts. It can withhold tax clearance certs, tax refunds and can impose fines and penalties. In short, it is not to be messed with.

Fine! How do I pay? 

There are a number of options.

You can pay online at The taxman says this is the “quickest and most straightforward option to file your return”.

It does not say why anyone would want to pay their tax quickly, however. Using the online system you can pay by credit card – a bad idea because of the high rate of interest on credit card transactions – or by debit card (better).

You can also fill in your bank details on the letter you will get and pay in full or you can pay by direct debit.

Bear in mind that if you pay by direct debit you will incur charges imposed by your bank so a better, cheaper option would be to have the money taken from your salary by your employer.

Other payment methods include cheques and cash payments through the post office or possibly utility companies, although the latter has yet to be confirmed. In short, Revenue has come up with all manner of ways to help you pay up.

When will I have to pay? 

There are a number of important dates to remember.

May 1st is the date on which the property will be valued and if you are paying using regular post, the tax will have to be paid by May 7th.

If you use the online system, you have until May 28th.

If you opt to have the payment deducted at source – by your employer – that will begin at the beginning of July, while if you decide to pay by direct debit the first payment will come out of your account in the middle of July.

Back up . . . the household charge? I forgot about that. If it is being scrapped and I haven’t paid it yet, am I in the clear? 

Absolutely not. If you pay the household charge by April 30th, you will have the fee capped at €130 – the original charge plus €30 in arrears and penalties.

If the tax is still outstanding in July, it will be increased to €200 and added to the local property tax due on your property.

Who determines the value of my property? 

Ultimately you, but you will get some help from the Revenue.

When you get your letter next week, there will be a suggested tax band for your house but the ultimate decision on which tax band your property will fall into falls into your hands.

You will be expected to take into account things like the state of your property, any extensions, home improvements or rowdy neighbours when determining the actual value.

Be warned, however, that you will be expected to tell the truth so if you assess your gorgeous three-storey over basement red-brick house on a leafy Rathgar avenue in Dublin to be worth just €100,000, there is a good chance you will get a visit from Revenue before you can say “audit? I don’t want an audit.”

These estimates the Revenue are making, where do they come from? 

Ah, you thought the property price register was for our benefit, didn’t you?

The register, which went live six months ago, has been a nosey-parker’s dream come true as it allows them to see exactly how much their neighbours are buying and selling their homes for.

Its main purpose is to help the Revenue determine how much properties across the State are selling for and then tax you accordingly.

That is not all, however.

The Revenue is also going to use a database developed by the Ordnance Survey of Ireland and An Post which contains information on the services and amenities near your home.

This is good news if you live on a barren and windswept stretch of the M50 where there is nothing that will add value to your home, but perhaps not so good if you live in Ranelagh.

So what happens if the Revenue underestimates the value of my house because it doesn’t know about my basement swimming pool and gazebo? 

You have to tell them the truth.

If you have the best house on the worst street and the Revenue pitches you at a tax band below what your house is worth you will get away with it for some time.

However, if you come to sell the house, you will have to tell the buyer what band you are in and if that is out of whack with the price you are looking for, questions will be asked.

And when you sell the property for a price in a band two or three steps above the one you have declared, the Revenue will come looking for you.

I’m scared. I don’t want to get into trouble but I don’t know if my house is worth €195,000 or €205,000. What should I do? 

Revenue will have 1.9 million houses to tax and are unlikely to be poring over every return with forensic detail.

It wants to get the money in and will make allowances for people who make honest mistakes in pricing.

If you put €195,000 instead of €205,000 on the form, it seems unlikely you would have your door broken down by the authorities demanding an extra €2 a week.

What will happen if my home is worth more than €1 million? 

You will have to get the property professionally valued.

Yes, you will have to pay for that valuation but if, unlike the rest of us, you live in a house worth more than €1 million, you can probably afford the €200 it will cost to make sure the price is right.

So what do I do when I get the letter? 

You select a payment option and complete the relevant details. You indicate the band number that corresponds to your property and you indicate the tax due.

You sign the form and post it back to Revenue.

Then you wait for them to take the money.

The online process is easier but the same questions will have to be answered.

What happens if I don’t get a letter looking for the tax? 

It doesn’t matter. If you are liable to pay the tax, you are liable to pay the tax, even if the letter gets lost in the post.

I am a landlord – who pays: me or my tenants? 

It is very simple. The owner pays. In the event that a property has multiple owners or if it is owned by a business, a number of children or a separated couple, then they are all liable, but they need to designate one person to pay the tax.

And if I just don’t pay? 

To paraphrase Liam Neeson in Taken: They will find you. And they will kill you.

Or at least they will charge you 8 per cent interest on whatever you owe.

Report by CONOR POPE - Irish Times

Monday, 18 February 2013

Revenue To Use Aerial Photos For House Tax...

THE taxman will use GPS-style technology to help work out your property tax bill.

Sophisticated aerial mapping will be used to measure a home's proximity to shops, transport links, schools and other amenities that have a bearing on a property's value.

A 'deprivation index' will also be used to measure the affluence or poverty of an area, which will also have a bearing on the value and the amount of tax that should be paid.
Homeowners will receive letters in the coming weeks telling them how much the Revenue thinks their home is worth and the tax band the property falls into.
The revelations show the hi-tech lengths the Revenue is going to in order to clamp down on those who knowingly undervalue their home for the new charge.
It is employing a sophisticated database which calculates a property's location in relation to facilities that increase its value.
Aerial maps and GPS-style systems will measure "the distance from each property to a series of amenities and services".
These will include train and Luas lines, airports, health services, schools, shops and emergency services such as garda stations.
The data will then be used by the Revenue to arrive at its estimate of how much every home in the country is worth and how much property tax should be paid.
It could lead to more protests from people living in cities, where there are more amenities close to hand, who claim they will unfairly pay more tax than those in rural areas.
Dublin city dwellers are likely to pay an average property tax of €405 compared with their rural counterparts, who will pay about €249.
Once Revenue has compiled its estimates they will be posted to every homeowner in the country within a matter of weeks. The tax will be levied at a rate of 0.18pc of house value, with a higher "mansion tax" rate of 0.25pc on values over €1m. There will be up to 19 different valuation bands, starting at under €100,000 and increasing in €50,000 tranches.
But the tax is still effectively self-assessed as homeowners will decide themselves which band to put their house into.
The self-assessed value will override the Revenue estimate, but as previously revealed in the Irish Independent, those who deviate from the provided estimates face the prospects of checks, inspections and challenges.
If the Revenue's estimate is used by a homeowner, they will not be challenged.
Those who do not respond for the property tax will be liable anyway, and will pay the charge based on the Revenue estimate of their home's value.
To help the Revenue arrive at its estimates, a GPS-like system called GeoDirectory is now being used to measure the distance from homes to local services.
It is unclear if this is costing the Revenue significant extra money – the system already exists as a joint venture between An Post and Ordnance Survey Ireland.
GeoDirectory manages Ireland's only complete database of commercial and residential buildings.
Each of the buildings in the database has a unique identification, and the system can specify the use of around 90pc of buildings in the country – if they are, for example, a newsagents, school, takeaway or office block.
The technology is already used by city and county councils to help co-ordinate services such as local roads, libraries, sanitation and the fire services.
It is also used by various state agencies to analyse the population, assess which services are needed in which areas and to maintain records of every commercial and residential address in the State.
A Revenue spokeswoman confirmed that the proximity of amenities would be taken into account when estimating the amount of tax it thinks everyone should pay.
"A range of data sources is being analysed to assist in providing this valuation guidance," the spokeswoman said.
Other data feeding into the Revenue include stamp duty receipts from 2010 on, electricity bills, rental details and records from the controversial €100 household charge.
The spokeswoman said the GeoDirectory "provides information on property location and type; and spatially derived data that indicate relative distances of all residential properties from a series of key amenities and services including transport, health, education and emergency services".
The location data will also feed into a special online guide which will be set up on the Revenue website early next month to allow people to value their properties.
Among other things, the guide will take into account whether the property is semi-detached or detached or if it is an apartment, when it was built and the average prices of properties in the same area.
A deprivation index will be used to measure the "relative affluence or disadvantage of a particular geographical area using data compiled from various censuses".
The deprivation index was compiled for Pobal, a government agency that works for social inclusion, and is mainly based on the 2011 Census.
Report by FIACH KELLY - Irish independent

Friday, 15 February 2013

Fall In House Prices...

Fall in house prices second-highest in EU...

Irish house prices fell at the second-fastest rate in the European Union last year and at a rate that was almost five times faster than the EU average, according to data compiled by academics based at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth (NUIM).
The figures published by the university’s All-Island Research Observatory show that Irish property prices are now nearly 30 per cent below a standardised average dating back to the middle of 2010.
They indicate that the Republic has had the worst-performing property market in the EU over the last six years, although markets in Spain and Bulgaria have performed almost as badly in recent years.
The data does contain some glimmers of hope that a recovery may be in sight or at least that the worst of the price falls are over.
The figures, compiled from Eurostat price surveys, show the Republic reporting the third-highest quarterly property increases in the third quarter of last year with prices going up by 1.6 per cent over a three-month period.
Precipitous declines 
Eurostat compares housing sectors across all 27 EU countries and while the Republic has been among the worst performing markets over the last six years, it has recorded even more precipitous declines in Estonia and Latvia, although in both countries prices subsequently recovered.
Irish prices have yet to stage a similar recovery.
The Eurostat House Price Index shows prices across the EU declining by 1.9 per cent last year when compared with the same quarter of 2011.
The highest annual price increases last year were in Estonia where prices went up by 8.4 per cent.
Luxembourg saw increases of 7.1 per cent while prices in Finland went up by 2.1 per cent.
The largest decline last year was in Spain, where prices fell 15.2 per cent year-on-year.
Prices in the Republic were down 9.6 per cent in the 12 months to the end of last September and the cost of a property in the Netherlands was down 8.7 per cent over the same period.
The EU House Price Index sets the base price of property in each country at 100 points at a date in the middle of 2010 and lays bare the scale of the collapse in the Republic.
At the beginning of 2007, Irish prices stood at 151 points on the standardised scale but fell back to 76.5 last year.
'Perfect Storm' 
“The scale of the price collapse in Ireland is as a result of a perfect storm of a banking and economic crisis coinciding with a dramatic oversupply across the market,” said Prof Rob Kitchin of NUIM.
“We have recorded declines in other countries and while some, like Spain, have mirrored the Irish experience, most countries, where over supply was not a problem, have seen price falls which are more modest.” He said few positives could be drawn from the figures from an Irish context.
“Looking at the data, you could say the declines have levelled off and are even marginally on the increase, but the increases are primarily being driven by sectors of the Dublin market where there is not an oversupply.”
Prof Rob Kitchin said that family homes in urban centres are in relatively short supply and high prices in this category was pulling up averages elsewhere.
“There is no question that there is a shortage of good family homes so there will be a recovery there first, but elsewhere an oversupply will keep the market depressed for a very long time.”
Report by CONOR POPE - Irish Times

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Dublin City Property Hit With Huge Tax...

Revealed: huge inequity in rural/city property tax...

Small apartments in capital will be charged more than rural 'mansions'

THE gross inequity of Finance Minister Michael Noonan's property tax is today laid bare as it has emerged Dubliners on the lowest rung of the property ladder will pay higher property tax than the owners of large four-bedroom homes across rural Ireland.

One-bed apartment owners in the golden triangle of south county Dublin will be forced to pay on average €315 in property tax, higher or equal than that paid by the owners of large detached houses in 19 other counties outside the capital, a Sunday Independent national property survey published today reveals.

The figures have reignited angry calls this weekend from within Fine Gael to have the terms and scope of the property tax amended in the Finance Bill to address the "injustice inflicted on the people of Dublin".

Dublin South TD Olivia Mitchell said: "What is happening is that many young people who bought apartments at the peak, paid huge stamp duty and are now caught in negative equity will be subsidising those in country mansions. It is grossly unfair," she said.

According to our county-by-county analysis, owners of large homes in counties Mayo, Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan, Longford, Westmeath, Offaly, Laois and Wexford will pay, on average, lower property tax than owners of the smallest apartments and houses in areas such as Stillorgan, Dalkey and Blackrock.

For example, owners of large four and five-bed houses in Taoiseach Enda Kenny's constituency of Mayo will pay a mere €225 a year in property tax, while people in the same-sized house in south Dublin will be forced to pay €945, a difference of €720 a year, our survey says.

But worse still, those who own large rural homes who will pay the €225 property tax will be charged €90 less than owners of small one-bedroom apartments or houses in south Dublin. While the figures contained in the survey are based on averages, the reality is that the owners of larger homes in Dublin will pay in excess of €1,000 every year in property tax.

In counties Kerry, Galway, Donegal, Monaghan, Limerick, Waterford, Tipperary, Sligo, Longford, Louth, Kilkenny, Meath and Carlow, owners of the largest properties will pay on average €315, the same as the one-bed apartment owners in south Dublin.

The survey examined the latest available sales data based on actual sales figures drawn from the Residential Property Price Register as well as information contained in quarterly reports on the property market by and

Reacting to the findings of our survey, angry Dublin Fine Gael TDs have reiterated their claims that what is being introduced is not a property tax but merely another form of income tax.

Dublin South TD Olivia Mitchell said: "We all know this so-called property tax is not a sustainable model for collecting money. These figures demonstrate clearly that the property tax is massively unfair."

She added: "I know the rural people have said they don't have the same services, and their subvention should come out from general taxation. This is not a property tax and the people of Dublin are being done a grave injustice."

Her colleague Eoghan Murphy, who represents the Dublin South East constituency, branded the property tax as a "deeply retrograde measure".

"This can in no way be perceived as fair, no way. It doesn't make any sense. I am all for a local services tax or charge, but this is just another form of income tax," he added.

"If this is going ahead, we must make allowance for those who paid stamp duty at the peak, but we must see exactly to what degree Dublin taxpayers will be subsidising those down the country."

Dun Laoghaire TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor said her major concern about the tax was for those who paid stamp duty at 9 per cent who would be burdened by this new tax.

She said: "This proposed tax takes account of people's ability to pay through a series of deferral arrangements but it does not take account of those who paid stamp duty of up to 9 per cent at the top end of the market. Many of those buyers had to borrow the money to pay that stamp duty. It would be galling if other counties did not pay and expected Dun Laoghaire residents to subsidise them."

Peter Mathews TD said many people in south Dublin simply won't be able to pay the tax or would have to sacrifice "dental work" for their children.

"I can see that there's going to be for those people who would in theory like to pay it, an inability to pay it. If you have a €650 after-tax bill on a modest enough house in south Dublin, that's a lot of money. Sure they're giving up things that they would have considered worth fighting for, things like dental correction work for children; all those things are being cut out," he said.

He added that owners of one-bed apartments in Dublin were far more likely to have borrowed heavily than owners of four-bed detached houses outside Dublin.

"You might find also that the income-generation capacity of the one-bed apartment owner is far more volatile than the owners of the four-bed house," he said.

In March, homeowners will receive correspondence from Revenue as to the amount of property tax they will have to pay when the tax comes into force in July. This year homeowners will only be liable for half of the full charge. The full tax will be levied from January 1, 2014.

Report by DANIEL McCONNELL and RONALD QUINLAN - Sunday Independent

Monday, 21 January 2013

Dubliners Hit Hard...

How this crippling new homes levy will hit Dubliners 3 times as hard...

DUBLINERS face having to pay almost three times as much property tax as householders outside the capital. The controversial tax is due to be rolled out across the board this summer at a 0.18pc rate of the value of the property.

But the discrepancies between how much householders in the capital will have to pay compared to people living in towns and cities elsewhere suggests the tax may be one of the most divisive ever.

Today the Herald highlights the disparity between the charge on homes in Dublin and two medium-sized towns, close to Cork and Galway cities.

We have selected three types of houses - a four-bed detached, a three-bed semi-detached and a three-bed terraced - for comparison purposes. The big difference between the houses in each type is their location and price.


Homeowners are due to receive an estimate on their bill from the Revenue in March.

They must submit their valuation by May 28 and this will determine the rate for the next three years.

The disparity between what residents of Dublin and elsewhere will pay has already caused a rift in Fine Gael.

Olivia Mitchell is one of those TDs who has railed against the calculation method.

The Dublin South TD said the tax is grossly unfair on those living in the capital.

"I am hoping that Minister Phil Hogan will realise that the situation as it applies to Dublin is really unfair," she told the Herald.

"Yes, houses are dearer here but I want for us to pay for what we get in Dublin and not services in other parts of the country.

"I would like to see that the big houses will pay more than smaller houses right across the country but that everyone only pays for the services that are provided in your area. It is a local tax and it should remain a local tax."

Ms Mitchell admits that it is unlikely that there will be any change at this stage, but hoped there would be next year.

Michael Kitt, Fianna Fail TD for Galway East, agreed the current property tax system was unfair. However, he described it as "utter hypocrisy" for a Government backbencher to voice concerns at this late stage.

"I think it is utter hypocrisy to be raising this issue now when we were guillotined from discussing the matter properly in the Dail and were only given a few hours to discuss the matter.

"I believe she's right in that it is unfair and people in the east are getting hit harder.

"But it will be a huge hit to families all over the country who are already struggling to pay mortgages and bills. This will be hard on families, no matter where they are," he added.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan agrees there is an imbalance in the way in which the tax will be levied.He compared the property levy to motor tax, explaining that the vast majority of motor vehicles are on the east coast, but these help pay for roads throughout the country.

"Obviously the monies that come in through the motor tax, or the property tax, are predominantly going to be coming from the east coast of Ireland and major urban areas," he said.


As the issue continues to build steam, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce have come up with a table based on property website Daft's asking prices to highlight the significant differences around the country.

Director of policy Aebhric McGibney said the tax is "inherently unfair" and that many people are living in the capital out of necessity rather than by choice.

"Two people who have exactly the same type of house will pay a vastly different type of tax depending on where they live," he said.

"Someone in north County Dublin could pay €400 but then someone in Carlow or Mayo will pay just €90. A lot of people don't have a choice, they pay a lot more of their salary to have the privilege of being near to their job.

"It seems perverse to provide an incentive to people to live further away from their job. The property tax as structured could create the urban sprawl in the Dublin area in rural areas," he added.

Repoet by Claire Murphy, Caroline Crawford and Ralph Riegel - Evening Herald

Friday, 11 January 2013

Irish Property Crash 2013

Another year over, what do we know?

Five years on from the crash, what have we learned? There is no magic solution but we are still thinking like an island.

In the end, not even sex could sell Belmayne. Nearly six years ago the north Dublin estate seared itself in the nation’s memory, with images of couples cavorting on kitchen counters, all in the desperate hope of arousing interest in an increasingly flaccid property market. At the now infamous launch party, the developer of Belmayne, Donal Caulfield, wearing a diamante-studded Roberto Cavalli beanie, promised buyers “gorgeous living” in four-bedroom houses with curved walls, all for €600,000. (Below: one of the famous “gorgeous living” ads)
The “gorgeous living” hoardings are long gone, as are the prices. No-nonsense signs on the Malahide Road now advertise houses in Belmayne starting from €245,000.
Belmayne is just one attraction in north Dublin’s property market Ground Zero. In 10 minutes you can drive from the evacuated fire hazard of Priory Hall, past the boarded-up boxes of Balgriffin and hundreds of homes from Kinsealy to Baldoyle buckling on unstable foundations.
Entering Belmayne through its massive stone portal, a throwback to a more confident era, is a pleasant surprise. The streets are tidy, as are the cream plaster and brick facades. Green spaces have just been planted, fences have been added and there’s talk of allotments.
A new Chinese restaurant has opened, two men are adjusting the sign on a new Polish shop, and around the corner the Macari’s takeaway is doing a steady trade. When it opened, in the dark days of April 2010, Macari’s was the only business here but it is now surrounded by other stores. Customers say that, overall, Belmayne has become a more neighbourly place.
“We’re quite happy here,” says the owner, Lydia Macari, who is the third generation of the chipper dynasty. “Residents are positive now and take pride in the area, houses are filling up, and the area’s more inviting. If you’re driving by, you can finally see a bit of light.”
There’s still a lot to do: a fence behind the final row of houses exposes the muddy expanse on which half of Belmayne was never built. Missing, too, are promised facilities such as schools, a library and a medical centre. Remedial construction work is ongoing, although there is no quick fix for the reality of negative equity. But in dealings with local authorities and Belmayne’s developer, resilient residents seem determined to improve what they can.
Turning things around in Ireland – which is, for some of our neighbours, the Belmayne of Europe – is a bigger challenge.
As 2013 begins, with the countdown running on the EU/IMF programme, expectations are growing on what lies ahead. Will a return to financial markets close the book on a chastened chapter or just open another?
It will be difficult to convince our European neighbours to relieve us of our legacy banking debt. As this crucial year begins, can at least minimum consensus be found on the past crisis to agree any resolutions for a common future? Recent attempts by politicians to stitch together a collective narrative – “We all partied”, “You are not responsible for this”, “We went mad borrowing” – have backfired spectacularly.
Political perspectives 
“I sense among voters a higher awareness that if a political party proposes something that is too good to be true, it probably is,” says Paschal Donohoe, the Fine Gael TD for Dublin Central. “In the next general election, anyone aspiring to government who puts forward a manifesto that is uncosted or that raises unrealistic expectations will deal a terminal blow to their party.”
In Galway West, Fianna Fáil TD Eamon Ó Cuív says the country has undergone a three-step process: first, the spendthrift ways of the boom and then, early in the EU/IMF programme, a hope that there was an easy way out. “Now, having changed government with new drivers in the saddle, there is a realisation there is no magic bullet and only a minority think the need to balance the budget is not real,” he says.
“Some people might think that the day the EU/IMF leave they will remove all strictures in terms of getting the deficit down but new lenders, the markets, will be no less severe in demanding a good performance.”
Next month’s repayment of the debt relating to Anglo Irish Bank coincides with the 70th anniversary of one of the most famous speeches by his grandfather Éamon de Valera. Often dismissed for its idealised imagery of “cosy homesteads”, the speech sounds a warning to a nation in hard times not to succumb to easy temptations.
Quoting the Young Irelander Thomas Davis, de Valera said that striving for an ideal Ireland was not a Utopian pastime for the Dublin elite in the good times but the “solemn, unavoidable duty” of all Irish, at all times. De Valera’s own ideal Ireland was one made up of “people who valued material wealth only as a basis of right living”.
Lessons for the future 
The journey from de Valera’s “right living” to Belmayne’s “gorgeous living” has brought the country to a crossroads where, as anyone who reads de Valera’s speech will see, no one ever danced. What Ireland does best is to get on with it.
In Baldoyle, not far from Belmayne, business is going well for FP Fogarty Belting. For 40 years the company has manufactured many of Ireland’s industrial conveyor belts that carry everything from bread to baggage. Comfort food and emigration are company mainstays at the moment but the director, Daragh Fogarty, says that, like many, he now has to work harder for less. “Customers are making big capital investments, which is a good sign that they see a future in their business,” he says. “The Irish food sector is thriving and I know we’re lucky not to be in a sector like construction, which is still on its knees.”
After buying his home, Fogarty bought an additional investment property, at the height of the boom, that is now worth a fraction of the purchase price. “I’m not blaming the banks for lending me money though it’s true there wasn’t any regulation,” he says. “Banking friends of mine had a wild life. When they went out they regularly put the company credit card behind the bar. That’s not happening now.”
Tighter financial regulation is an important lesson of the recent crash that will stand to the country, says John McHale, professor of economics at NUI Galway. He is also a member of the Fiscal Advisory Council. “With the economy stabilising, even a slow return to growth in domestic demand could see things turn around surprisingly quickly,” he says. “When a boom comes again, if the Government goes back to the old habits of spending money when it has it – the McCreevy philosophy – the Fiscal Advisory Council would be quite outspoken in its response.”
Other economists, such as Michael Taft of the trade union Unite, say such views prejudice an already limited debate on Ireland’s next chapter. “We tend to think as an island, not interested in how other countries dealt with their crises by maintaining demand or keeping people at work on a part-time basis,” he says. “Instead we just say, ‘We’re spending too much’, and cut.”
He is concerned at the lingering damage of crisis-era attacks on the public sector. “Beating the drum against one way of doing things, the public way, means you have only the other way: the private way,” he says. “That doesn’t give choices, strengthen democracy or improve people’s capacity to participate as citizens. Instead, they are reduced to participating as consumers.” As Ireland heads toward the bailout door, Taft would like to see broader debate about the consequences of economic decisions. A century on, he says, the time has come for people to embrace the slogan of the 1913 Lockout: “No decision about us without us.”
Will it be an inward debate or is Ireland ready to hear unvarnished truths from foreign perspectives, such as that of New York-based writer and builder Barry McKinley? “The sense of entitlement that developed during the Tiger years has all but disappeared, but I have a feeling that as soon as we can afford our bad habits, we’ll happily go back to them,” he says. “Nevertheless, we’ll come back from the brink: we always do.”
The danger of predictions 
The economic meltdown has been a disaster for some and has offered clarity to others. But, after discarding God and losing faith in Mammon, who decides in modern Ireland what de Valera’s idea of right living actually means? Is there anything wrong with a little gorgeous living now and then, once it’s not lying spreadeagled on an overpriced kitchen island? With many people struggling to get through this month, let alone this year, it may seem cruel or Utopian to be thinking about a better future. But, like all new year’s resolutions, thinking about the next step is not about senseless self-denial now.
Thinking about a better tomorrow in a tough today has a long Irish tradition, from Davis to de Valera. “De Valera’s language is quaint but the idea is not so off the wall,” says Éamon Ó Cuív. “Right living might be an old-fashioned term, but if you put it into a modern context, he is saying that economic success is simply a means to an end, of ensuring everyone in this country has the best quality of life possible to enjoy our culture, our environment and our community.”
Other voices What’s changing in Ireland?

PASCHAL DONOHOE Fine Gael TD, Dublin Central 

Has Ireland changed, for good or ill? Entire families emigrating was the worst change; the amazing performance of high-tech businesses is a sign of the best kind of change.

Will change persist or will old ways return? Banking union and strengthened euro governance will make it difficult for old ways to return.

Has there been any change in the political culture or in the expectations of the electorate? All policies have costs and consequences. You might defer them but you cannot avoid them.

What have you learned about yourself and about Ireland? For myself: never take anything for granted. For Ireland: our strength is awesome but digging so deep for so long comes at great social cost.

JOHN McHALE Professor of economics, NUI Galway 
Has Ireland changed? Financial regulatory and supervisory regime are greatly improved, and there are stronger fiscal rules and institutions.

Will change persist? Institutional changes will persist after the bailout, making boom-bust cycles less likely.

Has there been any change in the expectations of the electorate? It’s surprising there hasn’t been more focused demand for institutional change and accountability across the public and private sectors.

What have you learned? Irish pragmatism has been an asset. The challenge is to combine this with demands for reforms of institutions that have clearly failed.

BRENDAN CONNELLAN Former Wall Street trader, now a New York-based playwright 
Has Ireland changed? During the boom Ireland become much more crass. Now there’s an effort to reclaim our interest in the arts, which may not pay the bills but makes us happier.

Will change persist ? There will be no going back to the comfortable ways of a cosy little island being pleased with itself.

Has there been any change in the political culture? It’s likely there will be a new party in Ireland within two years, something like the PDs of old, that will have 20-25 per cent of the vote in no time.

What have you learned? Ireland is more robust than it seems and is perversely well suited to buckling down in a crisis but tends to repeat its mistakes in a cycle.

MICHAEL TAFT Research officer with the union Unite 
Has Ireland changed? People are having to live with a lot less.

Will change persist? Even though there are limitations on the economy, there is not just one programme to which everything is reduced. There are choices to be made.

Has there been any change in the political culture? It’s the same political rhetoric; it could be called a one-policy state of squeezing wages, services and the idea of a public realm.

What have you learned? There is a loss of morale and confidence. A lot of people are hanging on but I don’t think they can be led into a selfish life.

RALF SOTSCHECK Ireland correspondent of Germany’s Tageszeitung daily 
Has Ireland changed? The relaxed vibe is gone, in favour of the “time-is-money” philosophy. One indication: more car horns.

Will change persist? The banks haven’t changed their ways. Without fundamental bank reform the next crisis is a certainty.

Has there been any change in the political culture? Ireland’s political culture has been based on greed and corruption for 40 years. People are sick of the choice between cholera and plague.

What have you learned ? The EU has become a rich man’s club that protects rich people at the expense of middle- and lower-income people.
Report by - DEREK SCALLY - Irish Times