Is an Irish recovery on the way?

House prices rose over the last year.

According to figures released this week by the Central Statistics Office, Irish property prices rose by 1.2 per cent in the year to June 2013.

This is the first annual increase since January 2008.

It is expected that this increase will encourage buyers who were on the sidelines to enter the market, prompting hopes that a recovery will get under way.

However, despite the rise, it should be noted that Irish property prices are still 50 per cent lower than they were at their peak in September 2007.

Over this same period the Euro, which has been used as the currency in Ireland since 1999, has depreciated by 11 per cent against the US dollar which means the drop in US dollar terms is even higher at 60 per cent. This is significantly worse than UK and US markets which are 34 per cent and 29 per cent below peak as of June 2013 (in US dollar terms).

Ireland’s economy was one of the worst hit in the EU. GDP dipped for 3 straight years (2008, 2009 and 2010) before recovering slightly in 2011 and 2012. This of course followed a period of extremely strong growth between 2000 and 2007 when GDP growth averaged over 5.0  per cent per annum.

In Dublin, residential property prices grew by 1.7 per cent in June and were 4.2 per cent higher than a year ago. 

Interestingly, the prices of Dublin homes valued at more than €500,000 increased by significantly more than lower priced properties over the past 12 months.

The average price of a second hand home in the capital is now €279,000 according to Douglas Newman Good (DNG).

Photograph: Getty Images

Andrew Amoils is a writer for WealthInsight

Photo: Getty Images
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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.