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Calls for HSE to use old psychiatric institution in Kerry for social housing

St. Finian’s Hospital in Killarney has been lying idle since 2012.

St. Finian's Hospital, Killarney.
St. Finian's Hospital, Killarney.
Image: Google Maps

CALLS ARE BEING made to the HSE to build social housing on the idle estate of St. Finian’s Hospital in Killarney, Kerry.

The calls are coming following the massive fire which left St. Kevin’s Asylum in Cork burnt out earlier this week.

The building, which once had over 1,000 residents, has laid unoccupied since 2012.

The 30-acre site overlooks the GAA grounds of Fitzgerald Stadium and it was once one of the country’s oldest psychiatric institutions.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today, Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae called on the HSE to engage with Kerry County Council to find a use for the land.

“We have a shortage of houses and many of which could be built here,” he said.

Urgent plans need to be formulated regarding the future of St. Finian’s and the grounds following what happened to a similar building of Our Lady’s Hospital .. in Cork this week where much of it was burnt to the ground.

“The Minister for Health and the government should become involved immediately to determine and formulate a plan as to what will be done with this very valuable property.”

Answering Healy-Rae’s question, Minister for Education Richard Bruton said the HSE would be “very interested in working with local communities if there are viable proposals coming forward for future uses”.

“Those uses have to be stand alone uses that can support themselves,” Bruton said.

A spokesperson for the HSE told TheJournal.ie:

“While part of St Finian’s is vacant, there are still residents in the O’Connor unit, and that part of the site is currently in use.

“These residents will shortly transfer to a new 40-bed unit – Deer Lodge.

“In the meantime, the site as a whole is not vacant. Security measures on the current vacant building include steel mesh to ground floor windows, web-based security system and some additional security fencing.”

She said these measures will be extended to the space currently occupied when vacated.

Local concern

Local non-party councillor Brendan Cronin has previously discussed the issue at council meetings and at the last south Regional Health Forum.

He told TheJournal.ie that Killarney is in “desperate” need of social housing and that the land could be used as such.

“There’s desperate demand in Killarney for land for housing development, social housing and that’s just one aspect of it,” he said.

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“There’s a bypass in Killarney and there’s a couple of very dangerous junctions on it. We have been looking to gain access to the land to improve the bypass road network, it’s critically important.”

There are other bodies and groups looking for places to set up businesses and that. This will be absolutely ideal.

Cork fire

A fire broke out at the building formerly known as St Kevin’s Asylum in Cork on Tuesday.

The building, a large red-brick dating from the late 19th century situated just north of the Lee in the west of the city centre, has been closed and out of use since 2002.

download St Kevin’s Asylum, Cork. Source: Cork City Fire Brigade via Twitter

Local Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy spoke to TheJournal.ie shortly after the fire broke out.

“We’re calling for these buildings to be minded for years,” says McCarthy, adding that “ironically” the building was felt to be one of the most secure in the area.

With reporting by Cianan Brennan. 

Read: ‘We wanted to mind it; now we’re watching it burn’ – Fire has gutted one of Cork city’s best-known buildings

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