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20 Jan 2022

TD says Housing Minister 'shrugged his shoulders' over issue of derelict buildings in Kildare

Minister Darragh O'Brien

TD says Housing Minister 'shrugged his shoulders' over issue of derelict buildings in Kildare

A TD has said that Housing Minister and Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O' Brien has "essentially shrugged his shoulders" over the issue of derelict buildings in Kildare.

The comments follow after legislation was launched today at Leinster House by Sinn Féin (SF) TD Thomas Gould to tackle the issue.

Kildare South TD Patricia Ryan has urged the government to back the legislation to "ensure it delivers much-needed change for people priced out of affordable housing."

Speaking on the announcement, Ryan said: "Right across this state, there are thousands of potential homes falling further and further into disrepair: many of these are in South Kildare and are being left idle and rotting in the middle of a housing crisis by land hoarders."

Alleged State failure:

"The Derelict Sites Levy (DSL) was introduced as one of a number of tools available to local authorities to tackle dereliction... (but) this has failed and it is time for the Minister, the government and local authorities to be held to account for this failure.

She continued: "SF’s legislation would impose transparency and accountability across local and national government where there are failures to collect the DSL; it would create a requirement for a local authority who has collected less than 75 per cent of the DSL to publish a report outlining the reason why it was not collected, the reasons for the failure to collect the amount and the level of engagement they have undertaken with the property owners.

"This would include a requirement to outline any concerns the local authority has in relation to resourcing, staffing or other issues preventing them from collecting levies.

"The Minister would then be required to publish a reply, addressing the issues raised."

Ryan added that what her party wants to see is "a situation whereby local authorities are applying levies on all eligible properties and collecting these levies."

"Not only will this act as a deterrent and ultimately reduce levels of dereliction but in the meantime, the additional funding will support local authorities to build houses and resource communities."

The Ballybrittas native continued: "We are talking about over €12 million in untapped potential revenue... when local authorities are struggling year-on-year to balance budgets, why should those hoarding potential homes walk away scot-free?

"Every derelict property in this state is an insult to those trapped in the Housing Crisis.

'Frustrating':

"Here in South Kildare far too many people who are losing hope of ever having their own home are being forced to walk past empty rotting houses daily. 

"It is so frustrating that in the middle of a housing crisis we are surrounded by homes that are falling apart – these homes should be repaired and made available for families who will cherish them... these walls should be full of laughter and memories not mould and mildew."

Ryan further said that SF legislation would make it harder for land hoarders to justify allowing these homes to rot: "Land inflation means that people are actually making a profit off dereliction."

"We need to increase the financial penalties and apply them across the board so that there is no financial incentive to dereliction.

"The Minister has admitted that this is a problem but essentially shrugged his shoulders: the legislation to tackle dereliction exists, it’s time we started to enforce it.

"SF in government would tackle the housing crisis and stand up for ordinary workers and families by delivering affordable homes.

"We have the policies and solutions to deliver the change that people need," Ryan concluded.

Cross-party support:

Patricia Ryan TD is not the only Kildare politician who has hit out at the presence of derelict buildings in the county.

Back in November, a motion proposed by her colleague, Councillor Noel Connolly, was voted down at the Kildare Draft Budget 2022 meeting.

His motion was supported by other representatives such as Fine Gael Cllr Mark Stafford and Fianna Fáil Cllr Suzanna Doyle.

Two weeks ago, Social Democrats Cllr Bill Clear announced that he was cataloguing all vacant shops, houses and land in Naas and Sallins area, and has previously been vocal in his wish to see the issue of derelict buildings in the county addressed.

In addition, Labour Senator Mark Wall recently criticised derelict buildings in the Curragh Camp, and called for a long-awaited investment plan to be fast-tracked.

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