• Michael McCarthy

The Dublin – Cork Divide is Getting Bigger

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

If you have been to both Dublin and Cork recently you may have noticed an even greater distinction between the two largest cities in the state than normal.

Cranes over Dublin in 2007: large scale construction activity is expected in 2016. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Dublin is littered with tower cranes whereas Cork is largely devoid of them.

There are approximately 60 tower cranes standing on building sites in Dublin. There are 4 in Cork.

This is the clearest visible sign of the difference in economic activity between the cities.

It is unsustainable in both places for opposite reasons.

Dublin is receiving the majority of both public and private investment and is the main centre for multinational investment.

It is also far easier for developers to get funding for their projects in Dublin than it is elsewhere in the country.

These factors, among others, are increasing demand for resources, primarily development land and the labour with which to build and complete projects.

This is leading to a pro-cyclical pattern of investment where increasing levels of liquidity lead to increased activity, which leads to increased costs which leads to increased investment, and so on.

In the end, it results in more expensive properties paid for with ever higher loans, for those that qualify and can afford them.

It is a similar pattern to the most recent boom-bust cycle.

Meanwhile, in Cork, the opposite is the case. There is a dearth of projects on the ground resulting in intense competition for the few that are available for tender leading to unsustainably low tender prices.

Neither situation is beneficial for the overall economy.

Dublin, because it has received disproportionate infrastructural investment over the last 25 years, has become a beast that once again threatens the overall economic stability of the entire country.

The questions remain, have government learned anything and what, if anything, are they going to do about it?

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