Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (173)

Michael Healy-Rae


173. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of a Garda station (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34744/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The OPW actively manages a portfolio of some 2,500 properties throughout the country, that ranges from office accommodation to heritage properties, visitors centres, Garda stations, among others.  At any given time it is normal that a number of properties are vacant.  In the case of the OPW portfolio, there are 98 properties currently vacant, reduced from over 200 that were vacant in 2014. 

The majority of these are former Garda stations closed under the 2012/13 closure programme.  As these stations were subject to examination under the recent policing review, the OPW was specifically requested not to dispose of them.  Now that this review is completed, the future of the remaining stations will be determined.  

When a property is deemed suitable for disposal, the OPW will, in the first instance, offer it for use to other public bodies (e.g. local authorities, LDA, HSE etc.) prior to it being placed on the open market.

Following the conclusion of the reviews of closed Garda stations, and when it was confirmed by An Garda Síochána that the property remained surplus to its requirements, the Office of Public Works recommenced the process of identifying alternative State use for the property, in line with the OPW’s disposal policy on surplus vacant property. 

The OPW policy with regard to non-operational (vacant) State property, including the former Garda station at Brosna is to:

1. Identify if the property is required/suitable for alternative State use by either Government Departments or the wider public sector.

2. If there is no other State use identified for a property, the OPW will then consider disposing of the property on the open market if and when conditions prevail, in order to generate revenue for the Exchequer.

3. If no State requirement is identified or if a decision is taken not to dispose of a particular property, the OPW may consider community involvement (subject to a detailed written submission, which would indicate that the community/voluntary group has the means to insure, maintain and manage the property and that there are no ongoing costs for the Exchequer). 

The Brosna Heritage Society contacted the OPW by phone in 2014 and again in 2017 indicating their interest in the property.  The OPW wrote to the Society explaining the criteria required in order for the Commissioners of Public Works to licence the former Garda Station to a community group and requesting a business case.  No business case has been received to-date.   

If there is no alternative State interest in the former Garda station at Brosna, the OPW will proceed to dispose of the property in line with the above policy.