After being unsuccessful in its efforts to identify the owner of two derelict properties in the centre of Lismore, Waterford City & County Council has confirmed it will carry out the necessary repairs to the building, which will allow for the scaffolding currently erected on the façade to be removed.

The scaffolding has been an issue since it was erected late last year as it has reduced the width of the footpath, causing difficulties for people in wheelchairs and people pushing prams.

Cllr Declan Doocey, with the support of Cllr John Pratt and Cllr James Tobin, sought an update on the issue at this week’s July meeting of the Dungarvan/Lismore Municipal Authority.

He said the presence of the scaffolding is a ‘real danger’ for wheelchair users, people pushing prams and people on bicycles; and inquired who was incurring the costs for the scaffolding along Main Street in Lismore.

Ivan Grimes, Director of Housing Services, said the council has paid for the scaffolding to be erected ‘in relation to the safety of the building’. “We’ve decided recently, because it’s proved very difficult to identify the actual owner of the building, that we’re going to go ahead and procure works to ensure the safety of that building. So we’ll be in a position to carry out works in a number of months.”

Cllr Tobin asked what would happen if the owner shows up once the council has repaired the houses and removed the scaffolding. “Because there is an owner, there’s an owner to everything. I guarantee if you go selling it in the morning there’ll be an owner found fairly quick. So then if the owner refuses to pay all these costs of the scaffolding, the cost of the repairs, can the houses become the council’s then?”

In reply, Mr Grimes said: “The short answer to that would be no, but we could put a charge on the property. Any costs incurred by the council in making sure that that property is safe can be recouped from the owner when he or she is identified.”

Pushing this point, Cllr Pratt asked if the council could put these houses to use once the repairs have been carried out, if the owner has not been identified.

“There would be a range of different options open to the council but the first priority is to ensure public safety,” said Mr Grimes.

The scaffolding was erected shortly before Christmas 2016 as a matter of safety, after slates began to fall off the roof.