A TALE OF TWO TOWNS: Calls to end scourge of derelict buildings

August 19th, 2022 11:45 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

The Kinsale councillors are upset that the Council hasn’t acted on its concerns over some of the buildings in the tourist town. (Photos: John Allen)

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Kinsale is in need of a major upgrade due to the number of derelict sites dotted around its otherwise pretty streets, but it’s not the only town experiencing problems with unloved buildings, writes Kieran O’Mahony

KINSALE is in need of a major upgrade due to the number of derelict sites dotted around the town, and one councillor has remarked he is ‘astounded’ that there are so many in the top tourist town.

At a recent meeting of Bandon Kinsale Municipal District councillors began discussing the update on derelict sites across both towns.

Several councillors voiced their disquiet at some buildings in Kinsale in particular, and the lack of progress in tackling some problematic buildings.

Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said he is ‘astounded’ to see so many derelict sites in the town having walked around the town recently, which he said is adding ‘ugliness’ to what is a great town.

‘You don’t have to go too far into the heart of Kinsale town to see those.

‘I’m desperately disappointed to see so many buildings in deep trouble there and no attention whatsoever has been given to them,’ said Cllr Murphy.

He said that it’s amazing that Kinsale has slipped back once again from being a Tidy Towns gold medal winner and he said he wants in detail the number of derelict sites in Kinsale because ‘it’s not as beautiful as it should be’.

‘The town needs a major upgrade and it’s the derelict sites that get me – I want to see a solution to this as the town would benefit from an upgrade.’

He added that Kinsale is being portrayed as being the ‘kingpin’ of the tourism area and in order for the town to benefit from all that, dereliction has to be tackled.

Cllr Gillian Coughlan of Fianna Fáil pointed out that they have made great progress with derelict sites in Bandon but admitted it is a big issue and they need ‘to grasp that nettle.’

‘Maybe we need an in-camera meeting to discuss this issue and there are buildings that are derelict that have been there for years – we all know the owners who are living and trading in the locality and swift action needs to be taken on these,’ said.

She added that she was dismayed recently when one of her children showed her a TikTok video about the ‘sketchiest towns in Ireland’ and that Bandon was listed due to some of its derelict buildings and the fear that one could collapse.

Cllr Coughlan said that she wouldn’t be confident of some of the buildings in North Main Street in Bandon, which have been there a long time.

Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said the biggest issue in Kinsale is in relation to one property where a footpath is being blocked there and asked what can be done.

Cllr Marie O’Sullivan (FG) said they need to focus and target specific properties in Kinsale that are really problematic. She pointed out that a new business is opening next to a well-known derelict building in the town, and that it doesn’t help to have hoarding right next door.

‘They are investing money in this business and have the courage to do so in these difficult times so they should be helped in every way they can,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan, who also added that the hoarding is also posing a safety threat as it is blocking vision. However, senior executive officer Mac Dara O h-Icí disagreed that the two towns are in a bad state and said caution is needed when dealing with individual owners of properties.

‘When we get complaints, we get structural reports on them and action is taken. If there are specific buildings that members think are dangerous, then bring it my notice,’ he said.

‘I don’t think there is that level of dereliction in the town centre and working with the business owners is the best way  to deal with it,’ he added.

Cllr Murphy said he’s talking about ‘unsightly and unkempt buildings’ in Kinsale and he’s been approached numerous times from the public about this.

He called for a full inventory of derelict buildings in the town.

He said this particular issue has been going on five or six years and he has brought it up ‘ad nauseum’ and nothing has happened.

‘Go back to the owner and let the members know the response back,’ he urged Council management.

Cllr Coleman said that they should be allowed highlight specific buildings and they are entitled to know what the Council is doing in particular to one building.

‘There’s no point putting this on the agenda if we can’t even discuss the concerned buildings,’ said Cllr Coleman, who added that a particular footpath has been blocked for three years.

‘We feel we’re being stonewalled by officials on this and we should be getting a report on this – we should ask the chief executive to send us this report. I didn’t sign up for a meeting to get information like this as a public representative and it’s just not good enough.’

He then jokingly asked what ‘decade’ progress could be made on the matter.

Mr O h-Icí reiterated that they have to go about it the right way and naming specific buildings might compromise their ability to take action if they decide to press the ‘nuclear button’ down the road.

Councillors then agreed to hold an ‘in camera’ (with press excluded) meeting to discuss the issue.

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