Only 9 of 100 vacant OPW properties suitable for housing

Minister of state Patrick O’Donovan

Almost 100 OPW properties are lying vacant but only nine have been deemed suitable for social housing.

A further 15 properties are being considered by local authorities for possible social housing use, with seven of those buildings, and one site in Co Cork.

And the OPW has confirmed that of the 96 buildings which are currently vacant, more than half (51) are Garda stations which were closed under policing plans drawn up in 2012.

Of the 51 vacant station buildings, six were identified in an interim report of the Policing Authority for re-opening: Ballinspittle in Cork; Bawnboy in Cavan; Donard in Wicklow; Leighlinbridge in Carlow; and in Rush and Stepaside, Dublin.

Minister of state Patrick O’Donovan said: “A further review by the Garda Inspectorate was published in December 2018. The OPW will be engaging with An Garda Síochána on the outcome of the review. Of the remaining 45 properties that are vacant at present, a number are in the process of being transferred to local authorities, being considered or prepared for disposal, under consideration for community use or being retained for alternative State use.”

The details emerged on foot of a question from Cork Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke after he received reports that a house in Blarney, Co Cork, which had been for the use of gardaí based in the village, has been vacant for almost 20 years.

The OPW disputed this and said a retired member occupied the property until June 2012 but said it was five years, August 2017, before the property was offered to Cork County Council, which indicated a month later that it did not want to buy it.

“The contracts for sale for the property are ready and this property, along with a number of other surplus properties and sites will be disposed of in 2019,” said Mr O’Dononvan.

Mr Burke said it is important that the OPW audits its properties regularly to ensure that where vacant properties are deemed suitable for residential use they can be used quickly.

The OPW manages more than 2,500 properties on behalf of the State, including offices, heritage properties, visitor centres, warehouses, Garda stations and others.

Mr O’Donovan said while most are not suited to residential use, the OPW has provided information to the various housing agencies about its “non-operational, vacant properties”. This process has, over the last two years, identified nine properties as being feasible for adaptation for residential use, including eight units in Dublin city that were transferred to the city council for use by the Peter McVerry Trust, and a property in Crumlin that is now licensed for use as a family hub.

A further 15 properties are being considered, including seven and one site which are under consideration by Cork County Council; five properties under consideration by Tipperary County Council; and three properties under consideration by Limerick City and County Council.

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