Labour Party and Duncan Stewart demand urgency on vacancy

Ivana Bacik TD
03 October 2023
  • Bacik to host public meeting in Rathmines tonight
  • Almost 5,000 homes vacant in Dublin alone

Labour leader and housing spokesperson Ivana Bacik will host a public meeting to tackle vacancy and dereliction in the capital this evening, Tuesday 3rd October at 7pm in Rathmines Town Hall.

Deputy Bacik will be joined by Duncan Stewart, award-winning architect, media producer and Ireland’s most well-known environmentalist.

Urging people to get involved in Labour’s vacancy and dereliction campaign, Deputy Bacik said:

“Vacancy and dereliction is a national scandal. It’s obvious to anyone who walks through the city – apartment blocks lie empty with the wrapping still on mattresses, boarded up houses which could become homes for those who so desperately need it. We in the Labour Party are committed to tackling this, increasing housing supply and reinvigorating our urban centres.

“If there’s been a consistent theme as to how Fianna Fáil have managed the Housing Department in recent years it’s this: focusing on sorting out the developers; concerning themselves with tax breaks for landlords; ignoring the growing systemic problem of homelessness; actively ignoring the huge numbers of empty homes nationwide.

“We are urging everyone to get involved in our campaign, and add the details of vacant and derelict homes to the Labour Party register so that we can tackle this issue head on.

“Land is a finite resource. Properties which are left vacant for a prolonged period should be compulsorily purchased and local authorities should be resourced to do so. The State needs to step in and increase the supply of homes for those who so desperately need them. Tackling vacancy and dereliction would be a step in the right direction.”

Speaking in advance of the meeting, Duncan Stewart said:

“Ireland’s vacancy rate of buildings in urban areas and towns is shamefully high relative to Europe. As an architect, I know that ‘vacancy’ leads rapidly and stealthily to dereliction, where many Dublin streets and historic buildings are now blighted by dilapidation, especially in the upper floors above shops.

“Building owners must surely be compelled by an effective ‘stick and carrot’ approach to convert their vacant buildings into provision of more housing.

“Or, these property owners should be put on notice, where a CPO would be placed on the purchase of their property within a short but realistic timeframe, or they should face massive fines, or a possible vacancy tax, that increases in line with the time of vacancy.

“A comprehensive building survey should be carried out expeditiously. The register for vacant and derelict buildings in Dublin and other cities and towns needs to be comprehensively upgraded and to be made accountable and transparent for public scrutiny.

“We clearly have a devastating housing crisis that is still increasing. The acute shortage of supply of homes in urban areas, especially for young people’s need for dwellings close to the city centre, is feeding price hikes for both home purchases and in rents, which are currently way beyond what is affordable for most young Irish people.

“It is shocking that so much of our building stock lies vacant, while building owners sit on property as it falls into a state disrepair.

“All this under-utilised or vacant space needs to be made available for those in need of housing and for those homeless.

“Policies clearly need to be legislated to ensure all these buildings, now in a poor state of repair, be urgently refurbished to acceptable standards and made habitable and fit for purpose for residential use.

“By converting, upgrading and releasing all this massive amount of vacant property, it could go a long way towards solving our housing shortage, while it could greatly help reduce house prices and rents. Surely this is a no brainier!”

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