Banks and vulture funds which allow private houses in their ownership to fall foul of anti-social behaviour and neglect should be “nailed” under no nonsense style legislation.
That was the demand made by one local politician this week after the Leader obtained photographs of how vandals effectively gutted a house in Longford town.
Cllr John Browne said it was time for local authorities to get tough with absentee landlords and in particular financial institutions that allow properties to fall into disrepair.
“It's absolutely horrific what's going on,” he said.
Cllr Browne's remarks were delivered at a meeting of Longford Municipal District last Wednesday in a debate which drew similarly disparaging remarks from other councillors.
The Fine Gael publican said it was his understanding the house concerned had been in the possession of a bank but may have since been sold on.
“These people should be nailed,” he contended brusquely.
“This was a good bloody house but it looks absolutely dereadful.”
Cllr Browne said he had taken it upon himself to view the inside of the property on at least two occasions.
“The first time I went into the house there was a fella in the back room who said to me 'I'm looking for my dog'.”
Despite appearing to draw muffled laughter from the rest of the chamber, several other councillors spoke out in support of Cllr Browne.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Seamus Butler said there was no escaping the reality that a more vigorous approach was also required of the Gardai.
“The simple fact of the matter is that arson was committed here,” he said.
“This is people acting with impunity.”
Cllr Peggy Nolan said the unsightly presence of damaged properties was very much in contrast to the welcoming backdrop of the recently restored St Mel's Cathedral.
Equally disheartened was Independent Cllr Gerry Warnock.
Like Cllr Browne, the local authority employee said it was incumbent on councils to use every legislative avenue open to it.
“We need to take the gloves off,” he maintained.
“We have to get tough on these offenders because this tip-tap approach just isn't working.”
They were sentiments Longford County Council's Head of Finance John McKeon swiftly endorsed.
He said the Council, through measures such as the Derelict Sites Act, remained committed to pursuing the owners of such properties both in Longford town and countywide.