Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon says the Government must do something to address the high level of vacant commercial units across the North West if it is serious about spreading the recovery to the regions.
A recent report from Geo Directory revealed that Sligo has the highest commercial vacancy rate in the country with 16.8% of units lying empty. Leitrim and Donegal were also higher than the national average at 16.3% and 15.1% respectively.
Deputy Scanlon has called on Minister Mitchell O’Connor to outline her plan to address these high commercial rates, however following a parliamentary reply on the issue, her strategy remains unclear, focusing on the action plan for jobs rather than targeting vacant commercial units.
He commented, “This Government needs to do more to bring business back to towns across the North West. Boarded up units on main streets are still a familiar site in towns and villages in Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal and could act as a deterrent to people who want to start their own business or expand and existing one.
“Fine Gael and Labour failed the regions by perpetrating a two-tier recovery – the fact that the North West has the highest percentage of commercial vacancies in the country clearly demonstrated their lack of commitment to counties like Sligo and Leitrim, which have not felt the impact of this urban economic upturn.
“The North West cannot continue to be left behind. These vacant commercial units should be utilised and used to house small and fledgling companies. In our manifesto, Fianna Fáil proposed the idea of earmarking certain unused public buildings for use as incubation units for start-ups. This initiative could be broadened out to include vacant commercial units as well. These properties would allow new companies to share the cost of rent, commercial rates and utilities and would put these vacant units to use.
“Instead of an “action plan”, we need to see real action and serious effort must be made to address the issue of vacant units across this region”.