The government has paused auctions of 13 decommissioned Garda stations – which were set to be sold under a rationalization program started a decade ago – to see if they can be used to house Ukrainian refugees.
The auction process has been suspended and the properties are now part of a broader review of government properties to address an escalating refugee housing crisis.
The state’s capacity for Ukrainian refugees was reached last week, with new arrivals being forced to stay in the old terminal building at Dublin Airport while alternative accommodation is sought. More than 40,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Ireland since Russia invaded their country in February.
There has also been a surge in applications for international protection from other countries in Ireland, with 7,080 applicants as of 13 July. Throughout 2021 there were 2,648 applicants.
In a parliamentary response to Social Democrat co-leader Catherine Murphy, Office of Public Works (OPW) junior minister Patrick O’Donovan said the OPW is an integral part of the government’s response to support for newcomers from Ukraine in Ireland.
The OPW manages 2,500 properties and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Inclusion and Youth reviews the OPW real estate portfolio to determine the potential availability of shelters for use by Ukrainian refugees and the actions needed “to make them fit for livable purposes”. .
Mr O’Donovan said former Garda stations across the country were part of the review and auctioneers would not be appointed until the evaluation was complete.
A list provided by the OPW shows that planned disposals have been suspended at 13 former stations. These include the former stations at Broadford, Lahinch and Doonbeg in Clare, former stations at Ballyfeard and Ballygurteen in Cork and the former Cloghan Barracks in Donegal.
In Kildare, the disposal of Ballitore station has been paused, as has the sale of Brosna station in Kerry. Ardagh and Ballinalee stations in Longford are rated along with Ballyforan station in Roscommon, Cliffoney station in Sligo and Hollywood station in Wicklow.
The former station at Dalkey in Dublin is not currently part of the review due to “title issues to be resolved prior to divestment”.
Five train stations have recently been sold, with the former train station in picturesque Leenane in Galway fetching €325,000 at auction in 2020. There are 12 former railway stations that are currently being transferred to local county or city government ownership.
The former station at Blacksod in Mayo has been designated for use by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the former station at Knockcroghery in Roscommon is being considered for similar use.
From 2012–13, 139 Garda stations were closed as part of a Garda rationalization program. By 2016, when the process was paused, the OPW disposed of 36 former wards.
Following a review in 2017, six stations were selected to be brought back into service – including Stepaside garda station in south Dublin, which had been championed by local TD Shane Ross, who was Minister at the time.
The OPW resumed the disposal program in 2019 after another Garda review recommended no reopening of the old stations.
According to the OPW, Gardai have retained responsibility for 21 former stations. Retired or current Gardaí live in 11 of these, while a further 10 are still needed by the Gardaí for other purposes.
The highest sum raised for a sale since 2018 was the €620,000 paid for the former MacCurtain Street station in Cork in 2020.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/sale-of-former-garda-stations-put-on-hold-as-officials-consider-using-them-as-homes-for-ukrainians-41845645.html Sales of former Garda stations have been suspended as officials consider using them as apartments for Ukrainians