House hunters are experiencing difficulty saving for a deposit and then finding it almost impossible to get a mortgage.

Peter and Irene O'Reilly are just one couple trying to buy a home but as time passes and prices continue to rise, they see the prospect of owning their own home as "a fool's dream". They have also had other demands on their finances which have made it impossible for them to save for a home. 

They are not alone in their feeling of despair.

For thousands of families, things are getting worse rather than better.

A report published by An Foras Forbartha shows a trend towards the construction of larger houses in recent years. 

The average size of a house in '78 is twenty per cent bigger than it was in '76.

The move towards the construction of four and five bedroom detached houses inevitably results in more expensive houses, which are out of the reach of many of those looking to buy a home. The report also claims that house prices have doubled in the last three years.

The mushrooming of luxury development signs means more and more mortgage money is tied up in homes that lots of people can't afford.

A major study of the Irish housing system was published in April 1979 by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). One of the authors of the report Terry Baker describes how many people couldn't break into the housing system. He says that this finding is reinforced by the Foras Forbartha study. 

This division between the housing haves and the housing have nots is getting worse rather than better.

About a third of the homes constructed in Ireland in 1978 were for local authorities. In Bray in County Wicklow, there are 250 families on the local housing list hoping to get one of the 150 houses planned for the area in the next few years. However, as investment in public housing is cut back, people could remain on the waiting list for years. 


This episode of 'Frontline' was broadcast on 23 October 1979.