Hundreds of homes left empty in ghost estates 'as there is no demand'
Almost 670 homes are complete but empty in unfinished housing estates across the country - with the Department of Housing saying that there is no demand for social units in these areas.
The number of so-called ghost estates has dropped from more than 3,000 in 2010 to 256 today, with 159 occupied by residents and the other 97 lying empty.
The annual progress report on resolving these estates says that in the 256 unfinished developments, some 4,600 homes are complete and occupied, 3,600 are at various stages of completion and 678 are complete but vacant.
There are no vacant units in the local authorities of Cork City, Dublin City, South Dublin, but some are empty in Galway City, Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.
However, the department said the overall vacancy levels within "unfinished" developments were not significantly high or "out of kilter" with normal levels.
A spokesman said local authorities were purchasing homes for social housing where demand existed, but that in some locations there was no demand.
Moves were under way to identify all vacant homes across the State, the report said, adding that councils had been asked to find out where empty houses were located to identify the owner and prioritise getting the units back into use where "housing demand is most acute".
Among the finished developments is Aisling in Ennis, Co Clare, which is part of a bigger development and which was completed by Nama.
It included 23 derelict and unfinished homes, which have been leased to the State for social housing.
Nama controls seven unfinished developments.
The report says the highest proportion of ghost estates where little or no work has been undertaken is in rural areas, where there is little or no demand.
Junior Housing Minister Damien English said 74pc of local authorities had fewer than 10 unfinished estates and four had none.
"In the last 12 months we have resolved 165 developments and intend to build on that success with a further push in 2018 to resolve as many as possible of the remaining unfinished developments," he said.
"I am very pleased with the progress made by my department and look forward to reducing the number of unfinished developments further throughout 2018."