Heroin hotel: Mannix Flynn outside Bernard McNamara's derelict Charlemont Place building

A DERELICT building owned by developer Bernard McNamara has been reduced to a multi-storey drugs squat, leading to fears that Nama-bound properties are being neglected.

The former canal-side McConnell House on Dublin's southside was due to be turned into an extension of the up-market Hilton Hotel, but was overrun by heroin dealers and addicts because of lax security.

McNamara had intended to spend €18.6m on the purchase and redevelopment of the property before it turned into what has been described as a "shooting gallery" for addicts.

The situation sparked serious local concerns. Within the past few weeks access was sealed and security guards were put in place to keep addicts out; the effectiveness of this strategy remains in question.

It has also provoked concerns over the fate of other vacant or derelict buildings previously owned by prominent developers, but now lying idle around the capital.

Dublin city councillor Mannix Flynn said that unless the issue was addressed, buildings tied up in Nama could cause as many social as economic problems.

Citing the example of the Charlemont Place building, he said: "It was completely vandalised; it was completely and absolutely derelict and crammed with the paraphernalia of intravenous drug use. It was a health hazard. People were living in there so it was used for defecation and everything."

He said he was concerned because the building was accessible by the public, but in urgent need of cleaning, given its hazardous contents.

He explained the council was powerless to enter because of its status as private property.

However, it is understood a clean-up of the building, which consists of five floors of debris and potentially dangerous materials, is due to get under way in the coming weeks.

Flynn said the abuse of the building had led to local complaints, and he expressed concern that other buildings left vacant after the boom years could turn into drug dens.

Those using vacant buildings will simply move to others if they are kept out, he said.

When contacted by the Sunday Tribune, McNamara refused to comment.

Now a shell of a building with smashed windows and a six-foot hoarding, the former McConnell Advertising premises was destined for far loftier things than a squat for heroin addicts.

McNamara got planning permission in 2008 to demolish the existing structure and replace it with a mixed-use development typical of the capital in more prosperous times.

The new eight-storey building was to have included office accommodation and an extension to the adjoining hotel. The permission was later appealed to An Bord Pleanála.