Labour calls for state-wide action to end the scourge of vacancy and dereliction

Senator Mark Wall
02 April 2024

Labour’s Senator Mark Wall has slammed the government’s ineffective response to dealing with the issue of vacant and derelict buildings. As in many aspects of this Government’s record on housing, the approach to vacancy and dereliction has been abysmal. It has been marked by short-termism – not effective action.

“Instead of decisive action, the Government response to the scourge of vacancy and dereliction was the one-off Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant. Despite promises and fanfare by Government, there were only 97 drawdowns of the grant in 2023. With just 24 drawdowns in my own county of Kildare, this grant has failed to make a meaningful impact, reflecting the continued tinkering around the edges of the housing crisis by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

“It is outrageous that in the midst of an acute housing crisis, thousands of homes across our country sit idle, either vacant or derelict.  Every vacant or derelict property represents a missed opportunity to provide a safe and secure home for someone in need.

“Instead of focusing on grants that are unaffordable for most people, what we need to see is a reform of local authorities powers, to include the power to act decisively and compulsory purchase homes that are lying idle to bring them back into the community. Labour have been calling for a streamlining of compulsory purchase powers, because we believe the State should be using Councils to CPO vacant and derelict homes, and ensuring their speedy renovation. This would be transformative to tackle vacancy and get people into homes.

“We urge Government to empower local authorities, adequately fund them, and deploy resources on the ground in our communities to tackle this crisis. The time for half-measures and excuses is over. It’s time for the government to take decisive action to address the root causes of the housing crisis.”

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