Sinn Féin has called for action to address the growing problem of vacant and derelict properties across County Galway.
The party’s Galway East representative Louis O’Hara said that it is a ‘major problem’ in towns across the county for both commercial buildings and housing.
He said that right across Galway there are thousands of potential homes falling further and further into disrepair, and that many of these are being left idle, rotting in the middle of a housing crisis.
“It is a growing problem and it is clear that more needs to be done to address the issue,” O’Hara said.
He said that Athenry town centre is particularly badly affected, and in recent weeks he has been raising this issue with the County Council.
The Council has agreed to issue notices to owners of a number of properties in the town centre of Athenry following representations made by the Sinn Féin rep.
O’Hara said that these notices will require the owners to carry out the necessary works needed to clean up these sites which ‘detract from the appearance’ of the town centre.
“They have also informed me that the property on Abbey Row (pictured) is being dealt with through Court proceedings.
“However, we need to see more of a ‘use them or lose them’ approach taken to these properties.”
Sinn Féin has called for a vacant property tax, which O’Hara argues would “incentivize property owners to sell or rent their property by making it financially unviable to leave property vacant and derelict.”
“It should be extended to include all property, with no exceptions, from derelict homes to commercial property also. We also need a greater focus from Galway County Council on identifying derelict sites and collecting levies,” he said.
“This must be accompanied by dedicated vacant homes officers, increased capital funding for local authorities for purchase and refurbishment costs, and a reform of the Compulsory Purchase Order legislation to reduce the time and cost of CPO’ing vacant properties.
“The identification of opportunity sites and more green lights for planning are also needed to encourage renovation and development of these sites.
“It is so frustrating that in the middle of a Housing Crisis we are surrounded by homes that are empty and falling apart – these homes should be repaired and made available for families who will cherish them.
“Taking action on vacant properties will improve the appearance of our towns and villages, attract new business into town centres and increase the supply of housing which is desperately needed. The solutions are there and they must be acted on.”