Copycat fears for derelict sites

THE potential for copycat arson attacks at derelict or abandoned properties in west Cork was raised at the recent meeting of the West Cork Municipal District in Skibbereen.

The concerns have been heightened following the major fire at the former St Kevin’s asylum building in Cork city.

Councillors highlighted a number of buildings around west Cork where anti-social behaviour was allegedly commonplace and where they said security should be a priority especially following a number of smaller fires around the county and the country.

Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan said that Beechgrove near Clonakilty was of particular concern as there had already been a fire and it was a magnate for anti-social behaviour. He said it was only a mater of time before something serious happened and said that securing such sites should be a top priority. Beechgrove has been earmarked for a major social housing development but as yet no work has commenced.

Cllr O’Sullivan called for an audit of vacant council-owned properties and said that appropriate measures should be put in place as such incidents were an unnecessary drain on fire services.

Cllr Mary Hegarty raised the condition of the former Sisters of Mercy convent in Bantry that is due to be developed by the Cluid housing association as well as Newtown House, which she said were both in poor condition.

Sinn Féin’s Paul Hayes said that heritage funding was being made available by the European Union and that this should be looked at for Beechgrove that he said would have tourism potential with investment.

Joe Carroll said the former convent in Skibbereen was also attracting anti-social behaviour and was a fire risk and should be addressed.