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Child homelessness increases every month during Minister English’s tenure – Tóibín

6 October, 2017

Sinn Féin TD for Meath West Peadar Tóibín has said that the amount of vacant or derelict houses in the county is unacceptable and is contributing to ever increasing homelessness figures. Deputy Tóibín has entreated Minister Damien English to act, particularly in light of rising child homelessness. 

Deputy Tóibín TD said:

“There are 5,000 vacant houses in County Meath. One in nine commercial properties in the county is still vacant ten years after the crash. In towns such as Navan and Ashbourne, the level of commercial vacancy is as high as one in seven properties. The current level of house vacancy in the State is twice what it should be in a normal housing market. 

“Towns such as Clonmellon, Delvin, and Oldcastle have been literally gutted by vacancy. There are a number of reasons for this. My view is that speculators are sitting on vacant, derelict houses waiting for prices to go up before they put them back on the market. According to the census, there are more vacant houses in County Meath than there are people on the housing waiting list. It is an incredible figure.

“A constituent contacted me recently to say that in the main street in Enfield, 50 people could be housed in the boarded-up or vacant.

“That such vacancy sits side by side with such need shows the inept, rudderless spatial planning that exists in this State. The outcome of this State inaction is massive. There are 8,000 people homeless including 3,000 children. You would be able to house every homeless child in the country in the vacant houses of Meath alone.

“There are 100,000 on the waiting list for housing and the vibrancy of town centres across the country is greatly diminished. There is a series of streets in my town, Navan, which is completely derelict. Boarded-up houses and shops are blighting communities. Anti-social behaviour in these vacant houses is rife.

“The Government efforts to resolve this issue have been paltry. The repair and lease scheme, which aimed to bring vacant and damaged properties back into circulation around the country, has had very little take up. In County Meath at the end of summer, only two properties had availed of this scheme. Meath County Council, which began setting up a vacant sites register since the start of the year, had registered no sites by summer. 

“We are urging Minister Damien English to get serious on this issue, provide the necessary funding to transform derelict houses into homes, strengthen the legislation to allow local authorities compulsory purchase order of long term derelict houses and tax homes and sites that are vacant due to speculators seeking higher profits.” 

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