Solving the problems in Ireland's housing market should not be "consumed by short-term measures to deal with the awful problem of homelessness", the former head of the Department of Finance, John Moran, told a property conference on Wednesday.
Mr Moran, speaking at the Sunday Business Post property summit in Dublin, said the issues of homelessness and rising rents should be addressed as part of a wider plan for the country's growth.
“Building and continuing to build around this concentrated economic and administrative centre that is Dublin is finding us in a scenario where we have a badly built centre, and we have encouraged sprawl out of it.
“We do not offer anything to newcomers to our country both in terms of those leaving school and those coming to live in our country but higher rents and living further and further away. We need the right supply, not just any kind of supply,” he said.
“Building for the future in Ireland requires a clear rejection of the car-dependent suburban house model, with Dublin as an overgrown city state.”
He said the Irish “obsession” with owning a suburban house with a front and back garden had led to an unsustainable sprawl outwards from Dublin. The alternative was to develop higher-density housing within cities, and to grow competing regional urban centres outside of Dublin.
Mr Moran was secretary general of the Department of Finance from 2012 to 2014. He is currently a lobbyist and consultant with his own firm RHH International, and his clients have included Uber.
Speaking at the conference, Keith Lowe, chief executive of DNG estate agents, said double-digit annual property price growth was "not sustainable".
“I predict that the 11 per cent annual rate of increase will be down to 7 or 8 per cent by the middle of 2018.”
He said the anticipated cooling off of property price growth would be due to increased supply of housing coming on stream.
Mr Lowe said his figures were supplied by the DNG house price gauge, which was based off a selection of property valuations on a quarterly basis. “I’m not convinced we have a crisis in the normal sales market at the present time.”
Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy told the conference that Ireland had never had a "properly functioning housing system".
“We can talk about a republic of opportunity, as we do, but for that to be real, for that to mean something, it means as a priority we need to ensure there are enough homes for our people to live in, renting or buying, young or old, up and down the country.”
A small number of protesters from the Campaign for Public Housing staged a demonstration outside of the conference.
Dublin city councillor Cieran Perry said the group was protesting because there was not enough urgency in building social housing from the Government.