Kehoe lashes out at Dunnes over empty store blight
Minister Paul Keogh has taken Dunnes Stores to task, calling on it to release vacant properties blighting our town centres.
Dunnes has empty stores in both Wexford and Enniscorthy which it refuses to sell and which have been left largely untouched since the chain opened newer premises in both towns.
'We have a major problem in towns throughout Ireland,' Minister Kehoe said last week during the Dail debate the Urban Regeneration and Housing Bill.
'A major Irish retail business, Dunnes Stores, opened up several new stores a number of years ago on the edges of towns and left our urban centres.
'This has left stores in the centre of our urban areas closed, vacant and empty. This is causing major blight in towns and cities throughout Ireland.'
'Dunnes Stores has an onus to act because the people in each of the towns where it has premises have been supporting Dunnes Stores for many years. It is about time Dunnes Stores went about renting out these vacant properties in urban areas.
'Specifically I have in mind the main street in my town of Enniscorthy where there is a huge vacant store. It is a blight on that street. This absolutely infuriates the rest of the retailers and traders in and around the town.'
Minister Kehoe said towns have been under major pressure in the past few years and doing their best to keep their shops open.
'If we are to reinvigorate town centres, people should rent out their vacant stores because plenty of others are interested in them. They should not be afraid of competition in the area.'
The Bill will introduce a vacant site levy to incentivise the development of vacant sites in urban areas. This will help the supply of housing and incentivise regeneration in areas where this is much needed. In the past few years the presence of vacant sites in towns has caused a huge problem.
'The Bill will also address housing supply issues by helping to increase housing construction activity. In my constituency of Wexford this is a major problem. Wexford is like any other county in the country where there is a major housing shortage.
'Every family should have the opportunity to own a house, but there are many people who are unable to buy and invest in a house. As a Government, we have to give them an opportunity to own their own house. The Bill will help these families,' he said.