Housing is ‘biggest roadblock’ to construction workers returning to Ireland

Over 50,000 construction workers are needed to keep up with demands on the housing supply.
Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

21.01 12 Feb 2024

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Housing is ‘biggest roadblock’...

Housing is ‘biggest roadblock’ to construction workers returning to Ireland

Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

21.01 12 Feb 2024

Share this article

Housing is the “biggest roadblock” to construction workers returning to Ireland, according to an emigrant.

It comes as a new marketing campaign encouraging Irish construction workers living abroad to return home was launched by Higher Education Minister Simon Harris today.

Some €750,000 has been allocated for the campaign which will be focused on those living in cities such as London, New York and Sydney.


Minister Harris said the campaign hopes to fill some of the 50,000 construction jobs needed in Ireland to keep up with current housing demands.

On Lunchtime Live today, Barry, a construction worker based in New Zealand, told listeners that he hopes to return to Ireland soon.

“New Zealand is a great place to live but it’s just at the point now where my family and friends are a bigger pull than the nice life that is there,” he said.

“The biggest roadblock I see is finding a place to live and the other one is the tax.

“I’m not expecting it to be an easy transition, even opening up a bank account is difficult, but I’ll just have to make do.”

Booming industry

Damian, a construction worker living in Perth, Australia, said Irish people are doing well in Australia’s booming construction industry.

“People who I know are pretty set up here in Perth,” he said.

“There’s money in the construction sector at the moment – there’s a lot of cash to be made and lots of opportunities.

“I’ve got friends who are operators in the construction industry in different sectors and have done absolutely amazing for themselves.”


Damian said it “would have to be a very good marketing campaign” to encourage workers to return home.

“There would need to be better incentives,” he said.

“We would need something a little bit extra to go back but I would never rule it out.

“Home is always home, there’s always a soft spot for home.”


Ciaran Breen, the owner of County Clare-based Ciaran Breen Construction, said he doesn’t think the campaign will be successful.

“There’s a lot of things wrong with this country,” he said.

“They’re getting fairly good healthcare there [in Australia] and they’re coming back to doomsday here with record numbers on trollies.

“Maybe they [Government] should try and fix the country before bringing people back to it.”

Working in Dublin

Mr Breen said moving back to Ireland would mean working in Dublin.

“The first thing I would be asking is where are the 50,000 jobs coming from and the answer to that is, they will be in Dublin,” he said.

“That means once you get here, you’re in the rat race looking for somewhere to live and trying to get going again here.

“People want to move back to their home county - to family and friends - but it’s not going to happen.”

Over 60,000 people emigrated from Ireland in 2023.

You can listen back here:

Main image: Cranes showing construction boom in Dublin City Centre. Image: fluffandshutter / Alamy

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