TÁNAISTE and Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar has called on Dunnes Stores to make 20 apartments lying empty for 17 years above its Macroom shopping centre available to home-seekers.
Mr Varadkar was speaking in Macroom as he welcomed the expansion of local wooden frame home manufacturer, Cygnum, and following the disclosure that the number of homeless people in the State had passed 10,000,
"I read about that, I don’t think that’s right,” he said, referring to The Corkman’s front page story this week revealing that there were 16 two bedroom apartments and 4 one bedroom units above the Dunnes Stores shopping complex and that they had lain empty since the building opened in 2005.
While he acknowledged that he didn’t know the exact details as to how the 17 year vacancy had come about, he said that Dunnes Stores should make the apartments available for home-seekers.
"I understand that these 20 apartments over Dunnes are there for quite some time and I really think the company should make them available for people to live in.
"They may have their reasons as to why they’re doing that but there must be a way around that.
"We can’t have a situation that there are 20 empty apartments in any town in Ireland when so many people are struggling to find somewhere to live.”
Mr Varadkar welcomed the announcement by wooden frame manufacturer Cygnum that it was expanding its workforce by 50 employees, bringing its staff complement to 170 workers.
"The 50 new jobs and the increased output are a boost for the company and for the area,” said the Tánaiste.
"This expansion will also help the Government’s efforts to increase the housing supply, with Cygnum producing timber frames for 1,350 homes every year.
"These are quicker to construct and also help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
“With a record number of people now at work in Ireland, I remain determined to ensure that jobs are available right across the country. Companies like Cygnum make that possible."
""The demand for timber frame housing is growing steadily year-on-year,” said John Desmond, Managing Director at Cygnum.
“Timber is the most environmentally friendly mainstream construction material, which means that the houses we manufacture are not only helping to tackle Ireland’s housing crisis, but also supporting the transition to a carbon neutral future.
"Over the last 5 years, we have invested €7m at our site here in Macroom, which will ultimately lead to the creation of up to 50 new jobs.”