Galway City Council is being urged to tackle the problem of derelict houses throughout the city, an on-going problem not just for the local authority but also for surrounding residents who are forced to live with these eyesores, some of which are rat infested, have trees growing through the roof, and pose a number of other health and safety risks.
Displaying their frustration a number of councillors at a special meeting of Galway City Council called on the council to find the owners of these properties and ensure they comply. A motion proposed by Cllr Colette Connolly (Lab ) was carried calling on council officials to issue a report outlining the actions that are being taken to deal with derelict sites throughout the city.
Cllr Connolly believes that “not enough is being done to tackle the issue. It appears that a softly, softly approach is being taken with the owneres of these properties. It is often the case the council has great difficulty tracing the owner and has to source this information through the land registration office, a process that can take months. Furthermore, even on contacting the landower, it can take months and in some cases years for action to be taken to make the property owner comply with legislation”. Cllr Connolly added that she has made representations to have a national legislation to develop a national property database.
Cllr Connolly welcomed the repairs works undertaken at the neighbourhood centre in Beal Srutha last week as it had been a “complete eyesore with broken window panes and doors and glass strewn on the pavement all around the site - a positive danger to all residents but particularly children”. However, she noted that there are still numerous other sites, commercial and residential, that are derelict and require urgent remediation works including the former shop opposite Scoil Bhride which “has trees growing through the roof and hoarding that is continuously in a poor state”.
Cllr Ollie Crowe (FF ) drew attention to a derelict site in Bohermore, as well as one in Shantalla Road which has been an issue for residents for five or six years. “It’s an eyesore and the people are far from happy about it,” said Cllr Crowe.
Referring to one case, Cllr Declan McDonnell said that the owner had been found guilty, promised to deal with it, but failed to do so. “I ask for this to be knocked down, the house is dangerous, rat infested, and it needs to be made safe for the local residents, many of whom are elderly. We go to court 12 months ago, we go a second time, and still nothing has been done,” he said.
A council offical then informed the councillors that “derelict sites are becoming a big problem in the city. We know they are there and are continuously working to deal with it”. Director of services, Ciaran Hayes then said: “It is unfair to say that nothing is being done. We wouldn’t be in court otherwise. We can only take the action open to us under the law. We have many derelict sites around the city, each requires due consideration and inspection.”