When people are in trouble they tend to turn to someone with experience of a problem and so when a builder who has spent 48 years in the business, Kevin Kelly, spoke about the downturn in his acceptance speech for the "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the Bank of Ireland Opus Awards, assembled architects were all ears.
The downturn was not a surprise, he said: None of us expected the boom to continue but we were surprised at the suddenness, said the former MD of John Sisk and Son and chairman of Treasury Holdings.
Typically the building sector saw two to three years of growth followed by two to three fallow years, he said. The difference this time, then, was that the boom lasted for 15 years. "I think the good times will never come back to that degree," said Kelly. He implored the Government to follow through with the National Development Plan by borrowing. Many architects would agree, in a week in which staff cuts continued with one practice laying off 40 people. The cuts have now moved on from younger recruits and are now hitting the 30-somethings with mortgages and children.
The RIAI is being proactive in helping members - for instance in giving advice on how to set up a small practice - and is continuing its remit to promote architecture, not least through designating 2009 as the "Year of Architecture".
The Irish Times