Clare TD says to revert housing above town centre shopfronts could be solution to residential woes

Michael McNamara, Independent TD for Clare, who has announced his candidacy for the European elections in June. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography.

A CANDIDATE in the upcoming European elections has said that an EU-backed funding scheme could help to bring hundreds of people and families back in to town centre buildings in Limerick and bring an end to vacancy and dereliction.

Independent European candidate and sitting Clare TD Michael McNamara has said that a dedicated EU funding scheme with a residential aim for town centre buildings was introduced, it could revitalise town across Limerick.

“Market towns like Bruff, Askeaton, Kilmallock, Newcastle West, Abbeyfeale, and Rathkeale, and Limerick City itself have streets full of fine old buildings where there is a retail unit at ground level and in many but not all cases they are vacant over ground level. Decades ago, there were families living in them,” Mr McNamara said.

“I don’t underestimate the difficulty of converting those back into residential use. There are regulations and issues around financing, but it would offer many benefits not just in housing, but also benefits for the environment and for society.”

Bringing disused properties back into use, the European hopeful said, would bring life back into town centres across the county, and would have the added benefit of helping work towards alleviating Ireland’s continuing housing crisis.

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“Everybody agrees that vacant units and dereliction is a problem and that we need to bring these properties back into use, but nobody seems to be doing anything about it in the midst of a housing crisis and unprecedented demand for residential property in towns and villages across the whole country,” the sitting TD said.

“I have seen European cities and towns, such as Porto (Portugal), transform their town centres by getting people back living in them. There appears to be little if any movement in this regard in Ireland which is a massive wasted opportunity when we look at how our town centres are becoming dead zones after business hours due to there being few people living there,” he said.

Mr McNamara said that if he is elected to the European Parliament, he would advocate for for funding to encourage the conversion of vacant town centre buildings to residential use.