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10 Aug 2022

'Huge amount' of empty rooms on main street in Offaly town

'Huge amount' of empty'Huge amount' of empty rooms on main street in Offaly town rooms on main street in Offaly town

'Huge amount' of empty rooms on main street in Offaly town

There is a 'huge amount' of empty space in the buildings lining Main Street in Birr.

That's according to Cllr John Carroll who raised the issue at the recent meeting of Birr Municipal District. He pointed out that this is a problem going back years adding that a lot of the rooms above the retail businesses on the street are empty.

“No one's been living in them for years,” he remarked. “During a housing crisis it seems a great waste of space.”

The councillor pointed out that retail businesses receive rates rebates if part of their premises are unused.

Cllr Carroll said there are a lot of derelict and empty buildings in Birr Municipal District. He said there's a Council official in the County Council whose remit is devoted to tackling this problem.

Councillors throughout Ireland have been calling for more Compulsory Purchase Orders, as well as a taxation being placed on property owners who have been sitting on vacant or derelict properties for years.

“In terms of tourism,” commented Cllr Carroll, “these vacant and derelict dwellings are not a good look. When we are promoting an area we want the streetscapes looking as well and vibrant as they can possibly be.”

Cllr Carroll made his comments while he was giving his Chairman's acceptance speech. He was replacing Cllr Peter Ormond in the Cathaoirleach's chair.

In his valediction speech as Chair, Cllr Ormond said he would like to “thank the members for their co-operation and commitment to the Birr Municipal District over the last 12 months. It was a huge honour for me to Chair the meetings. Today, it is the first time back in the Chamber in person after two years of Covid and I look forward to that continuing.

“Despite the restrictions over the last 12 months, we have achieved a huge amount by working together for the betterment of the district. I would like to thank the Executive and all members of staff for their assistance and co-operation and I wish the new Cathaoirleach and Leas Cathaoirleach every success going forward.”

Cllr Carroll was proposed for the Chair by Cllr John Leahy and seconded by Cllr Clare Claffey.

Cllr John Leahy proposed Cllr Claffey as Leas Cathaoirleach. “She adds the female presence which we are all looking for now in the political world,” said Cllr Leahy. The proposal was seconded by Cllr Ormond.

Cllr Leahy congratulated everyone who was involved in the creation of the LOETB Birr Further Education and Training Centre on Townsend Street.

“It's a first class facility,” remarked Cllr Leahy. “It's a massive development for the town. Cllr Carroll's involvement in that project was huge.”

“We hope to introduce Level 6 Post Leaving Cert Courses in the LOETB Birr FET,” commented Cllr Carroll.

“This course will allow participants to go on to third level education. Unfortunately South Offaly has a comparatively low number of people going to third level education. We'd like to improve that situation. We hope the new Level 6 course will go a way towards achieving that.”

He said it would be nice to see participants completing the Level 6 course and then attending the new university in Athlone.

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