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The government is paying €88m to rent private properties - but it also owns almost 100 empty buildings

Fianna Fáil has called it ‘ridiculous’ that one will be liable for the vacant sites tax next year.

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FIANNA FÁIL HAS criticised the government for spending almost €88 million a year on rental properties, despite owning a number of vacant properties.

The figures were released to the party’s spokesperson on Public Expenditure an Reform, Barry Cowen through a parliamentary question by Minister Paschal Donohoe.

A total of 96 State-owned properties are currently unoccupied, although a number of these are being prepared for alternative uses.

Of the 96:

  • 50 are former garda stations
  • 23 are being transferred to local authorities or other State bodies
  • 15 are being examined “for alternative State use or are being retained for strategic purposes”
  • 7 are being prepared for disposal
  • 1 is under consideration for community use.

It cost more than €580,000 a year to maintain these properties, the figures reveal.

A bulk of the €87.7 million paid to private landlords is spent in Dublin, where the figure stands at €68,227,241.

The total number of properties being rented by government across the country stands at 395. Two are currently unoccupied.

One property – the former garda station on Barrack Street in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny – is due to be liable for the vacant site levy.

“A list of empty state properties should be furnished and where feasible, rented offices should be transferred to them,” Cowen said in a statement.

“The state has a duty to keep costs down and maintain a suitable property portfolio. From January we will have a ridiculous situation whereby one state property will be subject to the vacant site levy.

It’s important that the tax payer gets full value for money for the rent paid to private property owners. We should not get sucked into paying massive sums of money on rent while we have buildings gathering moss.

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Nicky Ryan

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