Ronan Lyons | Personal Website
Ronan Lyons | Personal Website

Environmental Pillar workshop on NAMA, the Irish property market and economic sustainability

From one EP to another! Following Electric Picnic at the weekend, which featured Leviathan political and economic discussions as well as more food stalls and music acts than you can shake a stick at, today it was back to business and off to another type of EP altogether.

That was the Environmental Pillar, part of Ireland’s Social Partnership framework which comprises about 30 organisations in the environmental space in Ireland. They held a workshop on NAMA, the Irish property market and economic sustainability in Dublin. There were four speakers including myself. The other three were NAMA tag team Brian Lucey and Constantin Gurdgiev as well as Feasta founder and environmental economist Richard Douthwaite.

There was a good attendance and a great degree of interaction. Fortunately for those who couldn’t make it, including many prominent member of the Pillar who were meeting Cabinet members at the time, the whole thing is recorded.

The talk I gave is available on these three videos:

Blog readers may be a bit tired of my thoughts on these matters, though, in which case I’d recommend watching the other talks. The full list is available on the Environmental Pillar’s channel on Youtube. Some of Brian and Constantin’s thoughts in relation to how the government could have reacted to criticisms of the original NAMA proposal are very interesting, while the panel discussion at the end covers a whole range of topics from ‘What can I do?’ to¬† ‘Does it matter if environmental armageddon is just around the corner anyway?’!

Some of the key things I took away from the talk:

  • It does seem bizarre that journalists, financial services executives and foreign politicians are all prepared to listen to the anti-NAMA side, while the only way those opposed to NAMA can get to speak to government is through the media.
  • “Long-term economic value” could actually mean larger falls than current market value, because it means using yields/net present value as opposed to the catch-the-falling-knife which could still give totally unrealistic yields by the time rents have stopped falling.
  • The idea of a public trust that owns NAMA and that can decide on what to do with NAMA land tracts, for example, is worth exploring, regardless of whether or not we own the banks.
  • Our current crisis presents a huge opportunity to reorder things the way we want them. To a lesser extent NAMA, but to a much greater extent the lack of a broad strategy for the next five years and the oddly between-two-stools Commission on Taxation report suggest to me that we are wasting this opportunity.
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