The chief executive of Bank of Ireland has urged the next government, however it is composed or comprised, to urgently examine how it can deliver higher density and higher rise development as smoothly, quickly and efficiently as possible.

Addressing the Ibec Business Leaders Conference today, Francesca McDonagh said it is not sustainable that many people have to travel long distances to get to work in the city.

She told attendees at the event that there needs to be a revision of how housing is planned, zoned and built here.

"Housing was the issue that dominated our recent election and for obvious reasons," Ms McDonagh said.
"And on this issue, I would look up, speed up and build up."

She said it is projected that our population will grow by one million in the coming decades and demand for new housing will climb over 500,000 units by 2040.
Yet last year, she said, just over 21,000 new homes were delivered.

"Without changing our approach we are pushing another generation away from the capital, condemning them to long, energy sapping, time consuming, oil guzzling, expensive commutes," she claimed.
"So, I think we need to have a more honest and open debate about building up and challenge ourselves to deliver higher rise higher density accommodation with good urban design and transport links to meet the demands that we can see on the horizon."
She said this approach should not only be adopted in Dublin, but also other towns and cities on the island.
Bank of Ireland, she added, is commissioning research on the type of housing Ireland will need over the next two decades and will be publishing it later this year.
On Brexit, Ms McDonagh told the conference that it is forgotten but not gone.

She said 100% of us will be impacted by Brexit, but we just haven't felt it yet.

Ms McDonagh said there is some very "heavy lifting" to be done this year in agreeing a future relationship between the EU and UK and she described the timetable as very aggressive.

She added that the concerns of the bank's customers on both sides of the border have not gone away.  
Earlier, Ibec CEO Danny McCoy used the gathering to call for a new national social dialogue to address quality of life issues.

He said the dialogue would involve a range of stakeholders including business groups, trade unions, NGOs and other players in the civil society arena. 

The employers group has already had a positive initial contact with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) in this regard, he said.

Mr McCoy said business has gotten too big too fast, and it is imperative that business and civil society discern the signal that is being sent in the post election period. 

"There is now a renewed urgency to solving these major problems facing the country," he said.

"Ireland is now experiencing major political fragmentation and it is more important than ever that we find a mechanism to help move the country forward through effective policymaking."

He also said there needs to be a new Commission on Taxation to help the next Government address major business, societal and environmental challenges over the next decade.