When taking over the Presidency of the CIF from Pat Lucey in late 2020, he wished me well and expressed hope that 2021 would be a more ‘normal’ year. I agreed and acknowledged Pat’s excellent work in stewarding the industry and the CIF through such a tumultuous year.
Any hopes of normality, evaporated over Christmas and unfortunately some of our industry have only recently returned to work. It falls to the CIF now to redouble its efforts to make the second half of 2021 as productive as possible for members and the wider industry.
The positive news is that our reputation has been enhanced from the excellent work our companies and workers have done in adhering to safety protocols and government regulation. This has been painful for everyone – particularly the non-residential sector which saw restrictions unfairly and illogically extended until May 4.
We’ve demonstrated that there is no other industry more resilient, dynamic and adaptable over the last 18 months. I think we have also demonstrated how central we are to Ireland’s immediate economic recovery and our longer-term competitiveness and social progress.
Looking out past the recent restrictions, our industry will be one of the first to be fully reopened and contributing heavily to recovery. There are over 55,000 enterprises operating in construction with over 145,000 workers, meaning every €1billion invested in construction will generate about €1.85billion within the economy, sustain 1,200 jobs and generate €680million in profits and wages that will circulate around our parched economy.
Over the next 20 years, Project Ireland 2040 could see €200billion invested in reshaping our country by investment in nearly every community in Ireland. At the forefront, as ever, will be the construction industry. In other words, construction, you, our members, will be at the forefront economically and socially over the coming decades.
Due to this centrality, successive governments have increased investment in infrastructure and housing through the National Development programmes and housing strategies. So the challenge for us as an industry is to establish a truly collaborative relationship with key government departments.
The past has been relegated by concerns about the future of a post-Covid Ireland. For our part, we must assertively and persuasively collaborate with the Government so they understand what our actual requirements are if we are to deliver the housing and infrastructure our society needs to progress.
The pipeline of activity in the NDP is strong. In addition, there are multiple sources of additional support for government to ‘green’ our society and digitalise our industry. Here we must make ourselves indispensable partners so our industry gets the support it needs to recalibrate and invest in new technologies and approaches.
The CIF will continue to work on your behalf in this regard. As President, I want to hear your views. I have attended meetings at most branches in the CIF at this stage. The commitment and passion and willingness to roll up the sleeves is evident. It’s my role and that of the CIF to allow you to get on with it as much as possible.
I would ask that you get involved in the CIF through any of the structures, campaigns and branches as your involvement makes the CIF stronger and that benefits us all.