The City Council has served notice on the owners of the former Corrib Great Southern Hotel that the building is to be added to the Register of Derelict Sites.
Ultimately, that could lead to fines and up to six months in prison – alternatively, the Council can get a current valuation of the site and impose a levy of 3% per annum on the owner.
The building was the scene of yet another suspected arson attack last Tuesday night, when five units of Galway Fire Service were called to a blaze at around 8pm. It took more than two hours to get the fire under control.
It was the fourth fire at the property since March – all are being treated as arson by Gardaí. A spokesperson for Galway Garda Station said investigations are ongoing into the incident.
Meanwhile, Galway City Council is due to send a second notice to owners the Comer Group – the multi-billion euro property company run by two Glenamaddy brothers – of their intention to add it to the Register of Derelict Sites.
An initial letter was sent to the owners on October 16 which allows them to make a reply. The Council must then consider any representations which the owners may make. A follow-up letter is expected to be sent out next week.
If the Council orders remedial works to be carried out and the owners fail to do so, they face fines, imprisonment or a yearly levy of 3%.
Local area councillor Terry O’Flaherty said the Comers previously gave an assurance that security would be ‘upped’ at the site, and sensors installed to alert security guards of activity there.
“They’re obviously not working (sensors), when people can just get straight into the grounds. If something is not done, somebody will be badly maimed or killed. It’s a wide open, dangerous building.
“It’s very unfair on the residents and businesspeople in the area, having to put up with anti-social behaviour and having to look at such an eyesore on a main route into the city. It is such a beautiful site, it’s just awful to see it so run down,” said Cllr O’Flaherty.
Cllr Mike Crowe said the former hotel is “likely to go up in flames” unless the site is properly secured, and he is disappointed that the owners did not put proper security in place, as they had assured him they would in the past.
The Comers bought the property last year for a figure believed to be in the region of €3.5 million. Talks between the owners and GMIT officials for the 6.7 acre site broke down last year because the Comers had expectations “well in excess of market value” for the site.
Calls made by this newspaper to Barry Comer were unanswered.