Idle home scandal: County Council property vacant for almost ten years

Idle home scandal: County Council property vacant for almost ten years
Cllr Seamus McGrath at the house at 20 James Connolly place in Donnybrook, which has been vacant since May 2009.Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A COUNCIL house in Donnybrook has been vacant for almost ten years, a situation described as 'scandalous' in the midst of a housing crisis.

Almost 7,500 people are currently registered on Cork County Council's social housing waiting list but the property at 20 James Connolly Place has been officially deemed vacant since May 2009.

Former County Mayor Seamus McGrath has slammed the situation as thousands face lengthy waits for a home.

The property is due to be transferred to Clúid, a not-for-profit charity and the largest housing association in the country, but the process has been beset by problems surrounding its needs for refurbishment.

Mr McGrath said he has repeatedly raised the issue with the Council but no progress has been made as the Government has capped funding for homes that need to be refurbished at €30,000.

He said that despite the need for 'significant funds' to turn the property around, the situation should never have been let to reach this point.

"The fact that this house has been vacant for almost 10 years is nothing short of a scandal," the Fianna Fáil councillor said.

“We have been in a deep housing crisis for the past number of years and this property is sitting vacant in a high demand area in Douglas,” Mr McGrath said.

A spokesperson for Cork County Council said efforts are ongoing to transfer the home to Clúid.

“Clúid Housing remains committed to developing the property at 20 James Connolly Place for social housing,” the council said.

“Despite previous attempts, unfortunately, they were unable to progress with the preferred contractor selected during the initial tender process. Clúid is currently in the process of reassessing this property and has completed an updated property survey.

“Their organisation is committed to working in partnership with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and Cork County Council to ensure this property is returned to use.”

Mr McGrath acknowledged that there have been major improvements in terms of turnaround times on vacant properties owned by Cork County Council. He also conceded that county officials have been frustrated in their efforts on this particular property. However, the current situation simply isn’t good enough, he added.

“It is scandalous that this house is vacant while families are in emergency accommodation. It is scandalous what the neighbours of this property have had to put up with for almost 10 years.

“This vacant property is attached to another house and it is totally unacceptable that someone who takes pride in his own property should have to put up with this,” he said.

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