The fire which broke out at the derelict Corrib Great Southern Hotel on Monday must put pressure on the owners of the "unsightly building" to demolish it, otherwise the owners are simply showing further "scant regard" for the wellbeing of residents living close-by.
This is the view of Independent Galway City East councillor Terry O'Flaherty, who said the building has been "lying idle and neglected for far too long", and that the owners must "immediately put in train any plans they have for the site".
"The building itself is likely to be demolished in the future," she said, "and with the economy improving there is no excuse for the owners not to get moving." Her views were echoed by Fianna Fáil councillor Alan Cheevers who called for the hotel to be demolished, and Social Democrats councillor Owen Hanley who said the condition of the site was "an absolute disgrace and an insult to the people of the east side of the city".
A 'magnet for vandalism'
On Monday morning, emergency services from Galway city and Athenry were fighting a large fire which had broken out at the site of the former Corrib Great Southern Hotel. It is understood the fire was located on the third floor of the building, on the GMIT side.
Three units of the Galway Fire and Rescue Service were called to the former hotel, located near the GMIT at 5.45am. A unit from Athenry also attended. After extinguishing the fire, fire fighters maintained a presence at the derelict site, which has become notorious for anti-social behaviour and vandalism, and has been the scene of a number of arson attacks in previous years. Gardai are treating the incident as serious.
The fire was the latest in a series of fires at the building since it closed in 2007, during which time it has, as Cllr O'Flaherty [pictured above] said, become a "magnet for vandalism" and "an eyesore". She said the fire was extremely concerning for local residents.
"Residents are worried there will be a big fire that will set the whole place up in flames and we will be left with just the shell of an unsightly building," she said. "Locals are concerned that someone will end up being killed or seriously injured if this continues on — and they are worried for the safety of the children, who might see it as a sort of adventure attraction."
Owners of the site criticised
The hotel was included in the derelict site act, with an annual charge of three per cent of the value of the building. However, Cllr O'Flaherty noted this was "not enough of a deterrent" to induce the owners to act.
However, Social Democrats' Owen Hanley [pictured above] has challenged the owners, the Comer Brothers, to tell the public if they have paid the dereliction levy and what they are planning to do with the site. "I have no problem criticising their role in what the site has become and their lack of action," he said. "It's long past time the site came back into use and served the local community."
Cllr Hanley also said the Galway City Council should ring fence any money made from fines from the Corrib Great Southern and re-invest it into the east side of the city for community, cultural and social spaces.
Fianna Fáil's Alan Cheevers said City Hall was not implementing the vacant site levy as effectively as it should, and that it must look at compulsory purchase orders on such properties. He also said it was time for the Comer Brothers to "give a clear indication" about what is planned for the property.
"Residents in surrounding areas of Woodhaven and Lurgan Park as well as Renmore are very concerned with this property in its current structure," he said. "It has become an eyesore at the entrance to our city and as we host the capital of culture for 20/20 this is not a great welcoming structure to see."