UP to 350 housing estates are so badly unfinished that they are dangerous, an investigation has found.
From today, local authorities can draw down €5m from a government emergency fund set up to help make the so-called 'ghost estates' safer for residents and their children.
The State will give an initial €5m to local authorities to carry out safety improvements involving up to 8,000 homes in these estates.
However, this works out at an average of just €14,000 per estate and it will be up to a new government to decide whether more money will be made available.
A total of 348 of the 2,846 ghost estates nationwide were identified as having high public safety risks by the Advisory Group on Unfinished Housing Development.
Deep excavations, which are accessible by children, on the sites are some of the dangers posed by these developments.
Most of the ghost estates branded a danger are less than half occupied, leaving large numbers of empty or half-finished houses or apartments.
Most have been abandoned by developers.
Residents face dangerous areas on their doorsteps, with children also at risk from the unprotected upper-floor areas in neighbouring part-completed properties, according to an advisory group report published yesterday.
The initial tranche of money will be used by local authorities to close open manholes and sewers, turn on street lighting, fill in excavations and close off dangerous areas.
Housing Minister Michael Finneran warned yesterday: "We need to take urgent action on public safety. We have to make life more comfortable for residents and their children."
He said the intention was to recoup any taxpayers' money spent on unfinished housing estates.
Councils were urged by the group not to approve any more planning permissions.