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Fury after health chiefs sell prestige D4 home at a rock bottom price

THE HSE has been criticised for selling a Dublin 4 property "at the bottom of the market" after leaving it lying idle for years.

The premises, Eglinton House on Eglinton Road, was used by the health body in the past as a refuge for single mothers.

However, it has been empty for an extended period, with the HSE in the meantime spending money on security to monitor the building.

Plummeting prices mean the property has no chance of going for the multimillion euro figure it could have fetched pre-2007.

Dublin city councillor for the south east area, Dermot Lacey, questioned why the large home has now been put up for auction.

Absurd

"Why have they left it lying idle for the best part of five years? Why are they getting rid of a home that has been converted into a home for parents? Surely, there is a better use than disposing of it at the lowest point in the market," Mr Lacey said.

He added: "It does seem to me to be absurd. The HSE has partial responsibility for the homeless and it is selling somewhere that has been converted [into a homeless facility]."

The HSE had not commented at the time of writing.

However, a previous statement confirmed that Eglinton House was used as a mother and baby facility and "as such was fitted out for that purpose".

The HSE said in April last year that it was "reviewing this property with a view to establishing its future".

"There is security monitoring on the building which is the policy on all HSE buildings not in use 24/7," a spokeswoman had told the Herald.

Cllr Lacey had said it was "wrong" that there was a house like that lying empty.

Given the amount of money the organisation pays out in rent allowance it was "daft" that Eglinton House, "which clearly has facilities for people to live in", was closed, Mr Lacey added.

The home is now expected to be sold for a figure near €1m. By contrast, another house on Eglinton Road was auctioned for €1.6m two years ago. When it was in use, Eglinton House could accommodate 13 mothers and their babies.

The building is one of about 40 vacant properties owned by the HSE throughout the country.

Most of the vacant buildings comprise of local HSE health centres that have been vacated as new properties have been provided. Eglinton House is one of two vacant properties the HSE owns in Dublin.

Years before it was taken over by health chiefs, the premises was the home of former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald.

In an ironic twist, the estate agent now selling the property is Sherry FitzGerald, which has as its CEO the former leader's son Mark.

comurphy@herald.ie