Crisis Ruins and their Resolution? Ireland’s Property Bubble Ten Years OnTen Years On
Cian O’Callaghan is Assistant Professor of Geography at Trinity College Dublin. His recent research, which was funded by the IRC, has concerned the impacts of Ireland’s property bubble and associated crisis, with a particular focus on housing.
What your sandwich says about you
In a well-known advert for Bank of Ireland, a young man sits at his desk while his co-workers are seen leaving for lunch. “Tom is on a journey,” we are told. “Every dull homemade ham sanger with just a tiny bit of mayo brings him closer to a deposit for his first house.” Tom is depicted as hardworking and frugal, putting in place the necessary sacrifices now to secure his future home, in contrast to his co-workers’ extravagance. Alone in the office, his sandwich bursts into song, the bread lip-syncing to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” The advert ends with Tom browsing through property websites.
This advert responds to a new post-crisis economic reality, the parameters of which are in one sense strangely familiar. Banks have returned to a business model of pushing mortgages and stoking property market inflation. In recent years, we have seen the Government reintroduce measures to incentivise private market supply, such as a grant for first-time buyers, and the use of Public Private Partnerships to redevelop social housing estates, while vested interests have lobbied for the loosening of planning restrictions. Within the context of the scale of Ireland’s still recent property bubble and banking collapse, the normative return of such marketing is itself noteworthy. But if we look closer we can also see the subtle changes in these discourses.