Irish builders are leaving the country to find work as the uncertainty over reopening construction continues.
Hundreds of workers have moved to England and continental Europe in recent months, fuelling concerns the country will face a skills shortage when the industry reopens.
At least six British firms are actively recruiting in Ireland for people to go and work in the UK.
The offers can include free flights and accommodation – and some workers can double their wages by taking the plunge.
The Director General of the Construction Industry Federation said the Government has to put forward a clear date for the reopening of construction.
“There is a massive recruitment campaign going on here looking for Irish workers to go over there, and likewise on to the continent” he said.
“We are shooting ourselves in the foot absolutely. The fact that we are losing our own workforce that has been established here.
“They are choosing to go abroad because of the lack of certainty about when we might open. I think, really what we need is some degree of certainty and if we got an absolute commitment that we were going to go ahead on April 5th, I think it would stem some of the flow out of the country."
He warned that the country is losing out on 800 new homes a week as the closure continues.
“While we are closed, we are probably doing about 800 houses less each week than we should be,” he said.
“Even in the best-case scenario, at the outset, we were going to be way behind the number of actual housing units that we need because of the housing crisis.
“So, it is just a major negative in terms of the jobs that are lost, the houses that are lost and the infrastructure that is lost.”
While the British construction sector has always welcomed Irish workers, the changing visa requirements brought about by Brexit have made them prime candidates.
These construction workers told Newstalk that the mood among workers reminds them of the last recession.
“I’ve been working here on the building sites but just the lockdown restrictions just made everything very hard, very difficult,” said one.
“Flights paid, accommodation paid, it is just a lot easier.
“I am a carpenter in Cork and at the moment, you are hearing about a lot of the lads who are heading away to England just to carry on working because it is tough at the moment,” said another.
“Especially because the Government scheme of being able to go ahead with the private housing has stopped.”
Brian Coogan, Chief Executive of the Irish Plant Contractors Association, said the number of workers leaving Ireland is already, “running into the thousands.”
“It is starting to stack up,” he said.
“You are losing very, very talented people. Not just machinery operators. You are losing architects, bricklayers, carpenter – all these talented people who could and should be working in Ireland and leaving the country now to work elsewhere.”
He said there is now a real fear among contractors and sub-contractors that they simply won’t have the skilled workers they need when construction resumes.
Reporting from Josh Crosbie