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.
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.
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.