Cracking Up On The Inside

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Oireachtas offices at 91-93 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, have been emptied

Three buildings bought by the State for almost €20million have had to be temporarily abandoned after their staircases began to crack and move.

The Oireachtas offices are located in three adjoining Georgian buildings on Merrion Square with 60 staff affected.

A Freedom of Informartion request by journalist and academic Ken Foxe has revealed details of the sorry tale.

Ken writes:

The saga began last June when the Oireachtas first noticed cracking in the staircase at No 92 Merrion Square West and contacted the Office of Public Works looking for an inspection.

Later that month, staff based in the buildings were getting “somewhat nervous” and the Oireachtas again contacted the OPW looking for advice.

In early July, a preliminary inspection took place with no major issues discovered. By August however, the OPW had been back and decided that the staircase needed work.

This led to installation of scaffolding.

Staff were told to use stairs in the adjoining 93 Merrion Square even though there appeared to be some cracking around plaster work on that one as well.

By mid-November, problems with the second staircase were getting worse. “There is significant cracking along the walls, since the last visit. More worryingly there is gaps appearing on the stairs. Staff are very concerned,” an email noted.

The OPW said on November 12 that a visual inspection of the stairs had been completed. The staircase was “safe for use at all levels”.

They said they would add some temporary timber beams (top pic) to the underside of the stairs to allow for further works.

Staff were not overly reassured … Oireachtas asked for guidance on how they could avoid creating further concerns among workers.

By 25 November, it appeared things had taken a turn for the worse.

In one section, there was now a “fist sized hole right through into the room and cracks running from it to the ceiling” according to an email sent to the OPW.

In January, staff reported that the stairs was now moving and those based there were immediately sent home while alternative arrangements for accommodation were made.

With only an elevator available in 91 Merrion Square, the buildings cannot now be used.

In a statement, the Oireachtas said 40 staff have been relocated to other office space in the wider Leinster House complex.

It is understood that some have been “squeezed” into existing offices, including re-purposed meeting areas.

Meanwhile

The buildings have an interesting back story. They were originally bought at the height of property boom as part of plans to extend the National Gallery for €19.95million.

They had changed hands for €12million two years earlier.

They then lay idle until 2014 when a refurbishment that cost an estimated €4million was completed and the Oireachtas were able to move in.

Good times.

Right To Know

Ken Foxe

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21 thoughts on “Cracking Up On The Inside

  1. paul

    as soon as that stairs moved the first time, I’d have been out of there. No employer is worth serious injury or death.

    The OPW inspection must have been done at a distance if they thought shifting support surfaces were acceptable.

  2. Andrew

    They were bough at the height of the last bubble for €19.5 million. Who did the taxpayer fork this money out to?

  3. Truth in the News

    Who pocketed the 7.95 Million and was the initial purchase made on the basis
    that the OPW on behalf of the National Gallery intended the eventual acquisition
    funny there was no CPO initiated in this instance, but if it was some else’s
    farm or urban garden it would:

    1. Cian

      Probably because a CPO is there for projects that are for “the common good” – generally infrastructure projects. It would be quite difficult to justify it for extending an art gallery.

      Even if they had used a CPO they would be obliged to pay compensation based on the market value of the property – so it would be no cheaper.

  4. Bruncvik

    I work in an old Georgian building near Merrion Square as well. On days like this I keep a cap and scarf on, because even though all radiators are going on full blast and we have portable heaters, it’s so drafty the temperature rarely reaches 15C. The “good” news is that a few years ago we got the holes in the floors repaired, so we don’t have to have warning tape on the carpets anymore.

    I firmly believe these buildings should be razed. If you want, keep the front facade, but the rest of the building should go, replaced by something modern, up to current building and environmental standards. I believe the buildings next to Tesco on Lower Baggot Street were rebuilt that way (haven’t been inside, so I may be wrong), and they look just fine among the more derelict buildings.

    1. dhod

      I disagree. These building date back to the mid 18th century and although they’re difficult and expensive to maintain razing them is not the answer. It’s about more than the facades – the quality of workmanship in the interiors must be preserved because once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. Even if privately owned the state should offer grants to maintain these building and ensure they don’t fall into disrepair. As for you feeling a bit chilly – deal with it

      1. Bruncvik

        If you want to preserve some history, have a few such buildings. Maybe build a theme park around it, with actors in costumes at all. But people objecting to process are a major reason why Dublin looks (and smells in winter) like a set from a Dickensian novel, and not like a 21st century capital.

        1. Rob_G

          Having lived in a similar building for a while, I kind of agree. They should at least be allowed replace with the wooden single-glazed windows with some sort of tasteful, triple-glazed, sympathetic modern equivalent.

        2. scottser

          this. use them as hotels or BnB catering to tourists. i work off merrion square too, and these buildings are completely unfit for purpose as modern offices or homes. they are too nice to let go but they just aren’t accessible or sustainable.

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