The company overseeing the redevelopment of the Shannon region has said over half of its properties remain empty and that many need to be demolished or upgraded.
Staff leaving the company also received average payments of around €100,000 each, with atotal of €3.4m spent last year on early retirement packages.
The figures for Shannon Development were released as officials outlined future business and investment plans. This organisation has now been subsumed into the semi-state Shannon Group, which oversees progress in the region.
Managing director of commercial properties, Ray O’Driscoll, said that up to 57% of properties or around 230 buildings and lands were vacant.
Many structures were built between the 1960s and 1980s, he told members of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee.
Overall, many of its properties and sites are suited for aviation purposes. Most are situated in the Shannon area, while there also properties in Clare, Limerick, Kerry, Tipperary and Offaly.
The company said the Shannon properties were “the jewel in the crown,” but needed big investment. Some need to be knocked down and others needed to be developed, the committee heard.
The semi-state company could be the largest holder of property and land in the mid-west region, TDs were told.
Mr O’Driscoll said that the group’s goal was to redevelop zones, but this would not be done overnight.
The long-term strategy and needs of the Shannon region would be set out by the group in the first few months of next year, TDs were told.
PAC officials were also told of early retirement packages paid to staff last year. This cost the taxpayer €3.4m for 33 staff.
Each received three weeks’ pay per year of service plus statutory pay.
Labour TD Joe Costello remarked that the payouts seemed like “generous” amounts.
But group CEO Neill Pakey responded that there was nothing inappropriate about the payments and the early retirements were saving €2.7m a year.
Over €1m was also spent on restructuring the group, TDs were told.
Overall, the commercial side of the group currently owns and manages over 400 buildings and 2,000 acres of land in over 50 locations in the Shannon region.
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