Council urged to keep derelict Limerick sites for arts and community use

The Sailors' Home on O'Curry Street in Limerick City.

WITH Limerick arts groups finding it impossible to find space to rent in the city, the call has gone out for Limerick City and County Council to retain a suitable derelict site for community use.

Social Democrats councillor Elisa O’Donovan proposed at this Monday’s Metropolitan District meeting for the local authority to consider a building for community groups with no space to work in.

The Sailor’s Home on O’Curry Street, a space often used for exhibitions in the city, was one of the sites suggested by Cllr O’Donovan as a community arts space.

Emerging Limerick Filmmakers and Limerockers Cru were two of the “wonderful creative outlets” in the city in need of a home, she saide. A suitable derelict building in the city, she suggested, should now be repurposed for community use.

Seconding the motion, Sinn Féin councillor Sharon Benson said there was a very obvious lack of community space in the city.

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“We are not retaining any derelict sites for community use. Any funding available should be looked at so some of these buildings can be looked at for community space,” she added.

The Council’s Head of Property Services Jayne Leahy pointed out to council members that their Derelict Sites Unit is a self-funded operation and said they would also have to consider ongoing management of these sites. She felt that a shared space would be more beneficial, and suggested a feasibility study as the next step.

Community Tourism and Culture Director Gordon Daly said the council could acquire derelict sites compulsorily under the Derelict Sites Act, 1990, where an owner does not deal with the issue of dereliction on their land.

“Acquired sites may be used for purposes connected with the function of the local authority,” he explained.

“Derelict sites normally require significant capital investment that needs to be addressed, particularly for those retained, prior to allocation.

“In addition, under Derelict Sites legislation, the Council is liable for the payment of compensation to the former landowner and that would also need to be funded as part of any future use of suitable property.”