September 24, 2022

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Dozens of vacant or derelict former Garda stations, courthouses and banks in rural Ireland will be given a new lease of life under a €7.5 million redevelopment scheme announced today.

Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys has approved the funding to redevelop 36 properties into community hubs.

Under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, the properties will be taken into public ownership and converted for community use.

The scheme is designed to tackle what the Minister described as “the scourge of dereliction” in rural towns and villages and to deliver new facilities to benefit communities.

The first tranche of properties to be purchased includes several former Garda stations, including two in Co Roscommon at Tarmonbarry and Ballintubber and one in Ashford, Co Wicklow.

The former courthouse in New Ross and a number of former Bank of Ireland buildings, including: at Carnew, Co Wicklow; Rosslare Harbour, Co Wexford; Rathkeale, Co Limerick; and Cootehill, Co Cavan, will also be purchased.

Other properties affected include the FCA Hall in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, and a former commercial building in Athenry, Co Galway.

Under the scheme, local authorities were asked by the Minister’s department to engage with the local community to identify suitable properties to turn into community and enterprise hubs, remote facilities and youth centres.

‘New lease of life’

The aforementioned properties have been identified but more will be announced once the local authority has finalised the sales process.

“This scheme is all about tackling the scourge of vacancy and dereliction in our rural towns and villages,” the Minister said. “It’s about taking those old run-down buildings that have been lying idle for far too long. Now, they will be given a new lease of life and converted into community hubs.”

The properties will be taken into public ownership “and, most importantly, will be turned into spaces where the local community can gather and hold events”, she said.

This initiative said the Minister, “is all about regenerating our towns and villages and making them better places to live, work and raise a family”.

The funding will ensure that communities have the resources to develop new amenities and facilities in line with the needs they have identified themselves, she said.

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