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The Department of Social Protection on Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin. Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
Pretty Vacant

Why is a former AIB building bought by the State ten years ago still empty? – Patrick Nulty TD asks

The building was bought over a decade ago at a cost of almost €1.5 million by the taxpayer for use by the Probation and Welfare Service – but has lain empty ever since because the service declined to relocate there.

A VACANT FORMER AIB building in Dublin’s Blanchardstown Village should be to be put to “immediate use by local community and voluntary organisations”, Dublin West TD Patrick Nulty has said.

Deputy Nulty said the building had originally been acquired by the OPW over a decade ago for almost €1.5 million by the taxpayer yet “had been allowed to remain complete idle ever since”.

“I walk through Blanchardstown village on an almost daily basis and there are almost a dozen vacant or abandoned buildings there for one reason or another,” Nulty said. “This former AIB building in public ownership should be put to immediate community usage. For example, I was recently contacted by the local scout group in Blanchardstown who require a permanent scout den – why could they not be allocated this premises?”

In a Dáil question to the Minister of Finance, Nulty asked the position regarding the building, which owned by the Office of Public Works, including the ongoing annual cost of insuring and making the building secure. He noted that a number of local voluntary and charitable organisations have made enquiries regarding the potential for using this building, and asked if the Minister would make the space available on a temporary basis to local voluntary and charitable organisations, pending a decision on the building’s long term future.

Building was intended for the Probation and Welfare Service

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Brian Hayes TD, said the building was acquired in April 2002 at a cost of €1,358,620, excluding VAT, and was originally intended to house the Probation and Welfare Service.

However, a subsequent decision was made by the Probation and Welfare Service not to locate to the property, Hayes said.

“As no alternate State requirement could be identified for this property, at that time, the OPW decided that the property was surplus to requirements and as part of the rationalisation programme it was placed on the market. While there have been expressions of interest in the purchase and/or leasing of the property, it remains on the market,” he said.

Hayes said that, as the property is State-owned, there are no insurance costs but that the average annual costs covering works to prevent any deterioration of the building, care and maintenance, general repairs and upkeep of the building total approximately €5,000.

Department of Social Protection has ‘ruled out’ using the property

Hayes noted that, more recently, the OPW again engaged with the Department of Social Protection on the potential of using this space but that Department had “ruled out” using this property.

No details as to why the property has been deemed unsuitable by the Department of Social Protection were included in Hayes’ response.

Regarding the possibility of allowing the empty space being used by local community groups or charities, Hayes said: “As the property remains on the market it would not be appropriate to enter into any licensing arrangement for community use at this time.”

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