Senior Cork County Council official says the authority has ‘neither the right nor the duty’ to internally inspect derelict sites
A Cork TD said local authorities should be given powers to internally inspect derelict properties to avoid a repeat of the circumstances surrounding the discovery of remains of a man in a Mallow house that had lain undisturbed for two-decades.
The issue was raised by Cork North-Central Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould in a motion before last Monday’s meeting of the Cork County Joint Policing Committee.
In January of this year council workers clearing out a derelict house on Mallow’s Beecher Street discovered the skeletal remains of the late Timothy O’Sullivan, which has lain undisturbed foe up to 20-years.
In his motion Deputy Gould asked if Cork County Council had undertaken internal inspections, in conjunction with Gardaí, of properties on its derelict sites register ‘given the tragic incident uncovered in Mallow’.
“My worry now is this might happen to someone else,” said Deputy Gould.
“My question is are inspections undertaken at derelict sites to ensure that no one has passed away inside one of them and which council department is responsible for looking into these sites,” he added.
Replying to the motion Cork County Council deputy chief executive James Fogarty pointed out the authority is neither empowered or legally obliged to internally inspect properties on its derelict sites register.
Mr Fogarty said that properties on the register are inspected externally “without the necessity for entering”.
“The Derelict Sites Act does not provide an obligation nor a legal basis for the council to enter a private property for the purpose of the council exercising these powers,” said Mr Fogarty.
“In short, we have neither the right nor the duty to inspect those properties internally. As many of them are private properties, as such we are not at liberty to enter them. Therefore, they are not inspected by us anyway,” he added.
Deputy Gould said he believed this was something that “needed to be looked at and that he intended to raise the issue at a national level.
“While I appreciate the answer, I think internal inspections of derelict properties should be undertaken. I believe it is something the council should be doing ,” said Deputy Gould.
“As a member of the Oireachtas Housing, Local Government and Heritage committee I intend to raise this issue in the Dáil,” he added.