Use empty buildings or hand them to the state

Use empty buildings or hand them to the state
The former tax office on Sullivan's Quay has seen two fires there in recent weeks. Pic; Larry Cummins

The owners of empty buildings around the city have a responsibility to ensure they are safe and secure, a city councillor has warned.

Following a fire at the former tax office building on O’Sullivan’s Quay last week, city councillor Mick Finn said all owners of idle properties should reassess the safety of their buildings.

Neighbouring homes and businesses report that the building, which has been lying empty for close to a year, was being accessed regularly by young people in recent weeks.

“Ever since Sample Studios were closed down it has been used as a gathering spot,” Mr Finn said.

“They did board up the lower half but people were still finding a way in.”

The councillor said it was symptomatic of a wider issue in Cork city and said the onus is on property owners to ensure they do not become magnets for anti-social behaviour.

“I know people living in the area and they had expressed concern about it. I had passed those concerns on to Gardai, who were monitoring it, but it is very hard to monitor places 24/7 and it is up to the property owner.

“Places that are locked up or not in use, every property owner has an obligation to ensure they are secured safely.” 

The former tax office is owned by construction company BAM, who have plans to demolish it in the near future and redevelop the site.

But Mr Finn said: “They have had that building for a number of years and have sat on it. It is a prime city centre site lying idle for a long time.

“It is high time people who are sitting on these properties either act on them, develop them or hand them over to the state who can redevelop them.” The fire on Thursday was brought under control in less than two hours but Mr Finn listed a number of other fires in vacant buildings in recent years, including the destruction of St Kevin’s on the Lee road in July.

“These places ended up having major fires, costing the state money through the fire service.” 

Speaking after the fire, a spokesperson for BAM said security was in place at Sullivan's Quay and would be reviewed after the fire. The property will be demolished in the coming weeks, they added.

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