Ghost estates: 19,000 families, individuals in unfinished projects

Number of unfinished housing estates has dropped from 3,000 in 2010 to 668 this year

Some 176 unfinished housing developments in the State are completely vacant. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

The number of unfinished estates in Ireland now stands at 668 and more than 19,000 individuals and families are living in almost 500 of them, a new report shows.

Resolving Unfinished Housing Developments, the fourth annual progress report from the Department of the Environment and the Housing Agency, shows the number of so-called ghost estates has dropped from 3,000 in 2010 to 668 this year.

The National Asset Management Agency owns 47 of the unfinished developments, the report says.

Click or hover on council areas to see the number of vacant homes


Less than 100 housing units countrywide have been demolished since plans to tackle the problem began.

Non-recoupable grants of €10 million, from the Specialised Resolution Fund, were paid out to private developers to help them complete work on 86 developments. A further €3.2 million was also paid from the Public Safety Initiative fund, which can be recouped.

In 2015, 324 unfinished estates were resolved, the report found.

Of the 492 unfinished estates that have residents, 73 are in the Cork County Council area, 34 are in Kerry, 33 are in Tipperary and there are 28 each in Roscommon, Donegal and Cavan.

2,000 complete homes vacant

Across the 492 estates there are more than 19,000 homes occupied while more than 2,000 are complete, but vacant. There are 2,353 units near completion and 3,575 incomplete, with 2,466 at foundation level only.

Some 176 unfinished developments are completely vacant. The highest number, 21, is in the Donegal County Council area, while there are 14 in Kerry, 13 in Cork County, 12 each in Leitrim and Roscommon and 10 in Tipperary.

Of the unfinished vacant developments, 14 are in urban areas and the report categorises them as having good potential, while 34 are deemed uncertain, with low potential. These are in rural, edge-of-village or town locations, with the majority of the units incomplete and mainly consisting of shells, or on abandoned, deteriorating sites.

Of the 47 unfinished developments held by Nama, 15 are in Cork, eight are in Dublin, 3 are in Wicklow and Galway, there are two each in Wexford, Waterford, Kerry, Donegal and Clare and one each in Counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Louth, Offaly, Roscommon and Tipperary.

Minister of State for Housing, Paudie Coffey, said there was a need to look more closely at the 176 unfinished developments that are completely vacant to see if they are viable.

‘Last resort’

“Demolition is really the last resort,” he said.

The Minister said his objective in 2016 would be to resolve as many developments as possible , with a particular focus on the 492 developments with residents.

He also said the department would work to encourage local authorities to take now-finished estates in charge, which would make them responsible for maintenance including on roads, lighting and drainage.

The political message was that the Government had to “clean up the mess left by Fianna Fáil”, the Minister said.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist