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Nimbyism on housing comes with enormous cost

David McWilliams is critical of objections to developments while Lorcan Sirr argues it’s not all about supply


Happy Easter and welcome to this week’s IT Sunday, a selection of the best Irish Times journalism for our subscribers.

Ireland crippling housing crisis has been a recurring theme in much of our reporting this week. In his column, David McWilliams writes about the enormous costs that come with Nimbyism around housing developments. “In a country with an acute housing crisis, it constitutes antisocial behaviour, underscoring a pervasive ‘I’m all right Jack culture’, where a small number of largely entitled people give the two fingers to any notion of community or the greater good housing.” He writes that Ireland has a large housing shortage that will only be solved by building more homes.

However, in an opinion piece this weekend, Dr Lorcan Sirr argues that just building more homes will not fix the affordability crisis. He highlights research from central banks indicating that scarcity of supply has had little role in rocketing house prices. He writes that: “Any potential positive impact of new supply is competing against other upward pressure factors such as interest rates and always gets wiped out.” Meanwhile, the number of people homeless in Dublin surpassed 10,000 for the first time last month.

On a related note, an ESRI report published this week found that more than two-thirds of people in the Republic live in homes that are too big for their needs. The finding prompted much debate with Barry J Whyte reporting on the difficulties people face trying to downsize their homes when they get older while Jennifer O’Connell wrote about her experience when her parents sold the family home to her. “On paper, an inter-generational house swap made total sense. The practice was a little more difficult.”

On Friday, a major story broke in Northern Ireland where DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson resigned after being charged by police with “allegations of an historical nature”. Northern Editor Freya McClements writes in her analysis of “the political earthquake that no one saw coming” that “Donaldson’s reputation – and his political credibility – has been shattered. The consequences will be far reaching.”

In politics south of the Border, Harry McGee examines Simon Harris’s record and what it tells us about what kind of taoiseach he will be, while Pat Leahy writes about the demands of “a job like no other in the country”. In his column on Tuesday, Fintan O’Toole discussed the well-travelled route from the Department of Health to the taoiseach’s office and how it proves that “however you get to the top in Irish politics, it is not by fixing things”.

We also published an in-depth look at the most senior civil servants who are running Government departments. We profile the 18 secretaries general who manage the operations of their departments and advise their Ministers.

In the Weekend Review, Carl O’Brien takes a detailed look at the Irish classroom and spoke to several stakeholders about how it needs to change in order for the school system to be fit for purpose into the future. Meanwhile, London Correspondent Mark Paul got a rare look inside Sellafield, which is now an enormous nuclear dump. The company that runs Sellafield confirmed that The Irish Times is the first media outlet from the Republic to be granted recent access to the site.

Earlier in the week, Peter McGuire spoke to some PhD researchers who struggle to get by on €10,000 or less per year, with no assurance that their work and doctorate will lead them out of precarious employment. One researcher said: “I am a full-time PhD researcher with three part-time jobs in order to make ends meet living in Dublin. I find myself with little time for writing in this, my final year, so I am not going to make my deadline.”

This week’s On the Money newsletter also dealt with education issues, as Joanne Hunt explored how exactly when you choose to drop out of a college course can have a significant effect on your bottom line. Sign up here to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox every Friday.

The search for a new manager of the Republic of Ireland soccer team continues and John O’Shea has put his name into the ring. Ciarán Murphy writes that: “In a world where any decision is risky, why not give it to the fellah for whom the job will mean the world?”

This afternoon, Derry take on Dublin in the league final, a repeat of their division two meeting last season, although, as Seán Moran writes, enough water has passed under the bridge to flood the Sahara since then. In the women’s Six Nations Ireland take on Italy today and Gerry Thornley spoke to winger Béibhinn Parsons before the game.

In case you forgot, the clocks went forward at 2am this morning. One of the weekend editorials argues it’s only a matter of time before we stop this practice with the vast majority of people a few years ago telling the EU they want it to stop.

If you’re looking for ideas about what to do for the rest of the holidays there’s plenty to choose from in our Easter guide. Or if you’re relaxing at home, try our 50-question Easter quiz. Do well and you could win a night away at Perryville House in Co Cork.

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