Clare Independent T.D. Michael McNamara has urged the Government to develop an improved nationwide strategy to bring derelict buildings in Clare’s towns and villages back into use.
Speaking in the Dáil this evening, Deputy McNamara said a review of Derelict Sites Act was required to address what he described as increasing dereliction in towns and villages across Clare, including Kilrush, Scarriff, Killaloe, Kildysart Tulla and Ennis.
Deputy McNamara was addressing Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien in a Dáil debate on the Land Development Agency Bill 2021.
Under the Derelict Sites Act 1990, local authorities are responsible for dealing with derelict sites in their area and can prosecute owners who do not comply with notices served, make compulsory land purchases and carry out necessary work themselves and charge the owners for the cost.
Deputy McNamara however, stated that the Act was proving ineffective in Clare as evidenced by the significant number of derelict buildings towns and villages across the county.
Addressing Minister O’Brien, Deputy McNamara said: “The other issue I wish to raise as we are talking about housing is a failure by local authorities, including the local authority in Clare, which I represent, to adequately use the Derelict Sites Act 1990. There are many derelict buildings in towns across Clare, as there are right across Ireland. They are damaging to the morale of a town and I suppose they are particularly offensive in circumstances where there are long housing lists.
If the Derelict Sites Act needs to be amended, that is fine. Clare County Council has made the point that it feels the Act is inadequate. On the other hand, I believe Louth County Council has used it quite effectively to acquire. As for who is right and who is wrong, I do not know.”
“I know about towns such as my own home town of Scarriff and, in particular, Tullow, which is very near to me. The Minister has been criticised quite a bit for his plans to visit various areas of the country. I applaud the Minister for visiting areas of the country. A Minister should know what is going on across the country at all times.
However, I would ask the Minister, when he is visiting an area, to look out for derelict buildings. I would ask the Minister to visit Clare and look at the amount of derelict buildings, in particular, in Tullow. It is a problem in Kilrush, Kildysart and Scariff. It is a problem on the street of Killaloe. In every town, there are these buildings which are not being utilised and must be brought back into use.
If the owners have immediate plans to bring them back into use, that is the purpose of the Derelict Sites Act where a person is notified that it is intended to put his or her site on a register and the person can say that although it is a bit messy, he or she plans to carry out the following works in the following timeframe and the site is not put on the register.
Alternatively, the site can be put on the register and if the site remains on the register for a period, the local authority can compulsorily acquire it and bring it back into use, either residential or retail, or a mixture of the two. It is something that we badly need to see utilised. Just as we badly need to see public lands being developed for housing, we need to see people back living on the main streets of our towns instead of those buildings falling in as they are at present,” Deputy McNamara said.