A local senator has called on local authorities to take action on the scourge of derelict buildings in towns and villages.
Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard raised the matter in the Seanad this week and highlighted the ongoing situation in Bandon where part of Oliver Plunkett St has been closed off since last December after two residential buildings collapsed.
‘It’s a bizarre situation and if this happened on Grafton St or Patrick St would we have the same scenario?’ asked Sen Lombard.
Sen Lombard was told by Minister of State John Halligan that there are two relevant Acts – the Derelict Sites Act 1990, which requires every owner and occupier of land to take all reasonable steps to ensure that their land does not become a ‘derelict site.’
The second Act, the Sanitary Services Act 1964, means local authorities do have exceptional powers to deal with derelict sites and they can recoup the cost from the owners.
‘The powers they have are there in black and white so why did it take them 11 weeks to pursue this issue? This could have been done after Christmas,’ said Sen Lombard.
He also highlighted the fact that there are 11 vacant or derelict buildings on Innishannon’s main street and asked why the County Council aren’t moving updates on these more promptly.
Meanwhile, Cork County Council confirmed this week that it is seeking a court order to demolish the dangerous buildings in Bandon.
Clodagh Henehan, divisional manager, told the Western Committee in Clonakilty recently that the local authority has the power to seek such an order.
According to Ms Henehan, the situation has been made more complex by the fact that the properties were not registered in the Land Registry, and they were not on the vacant house register.
‘The buildings are not repairable,’ she said, ‘and our engineers say both properties need to be demolished and reconstructed into something more permanent.’
Describing the situation as ‘urgent’, Ms Henehan said: ‘I am not happy that people can’t walk up a public street, or that cars can’t go up the street, but we must keep people safe.’ Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said the situation is now ‘a matter of great public interest and the sooner we get a date in court the better.’
Ms Henehan reminded the councillors: ‘We are not a socialist state. This is private property and it is the responsibility of the owners of private property to deal with issues relating to their property.’
County manager Tim Lucey said last week that the Council had signed an order for a court hearing and that the court would now decide to either instruct the owners to demolish the buildings or give the Council the right to do so.