Dun Laoghaire's new library is a bigger election issue than taxes
Published 18/05/2014 | 02:30
Dun Laoghaire's 38-metre high, €40m library – labelled a "monstrosity" by critics – is the major election issue in the borough, according to candidates.
Four Independents contesting the local elections say the alleged "destruction" of the Victorian seafront vista by the construction of the library and cultural centre has overtaken water and property taxes as the issue causing most vexation on the doorsteps.
They claim there is overwhelming support for the demolition of the library, which has so far cost taxpayers €35m, with millions more required for fit-out.
The library was voted through by Fianna Fail, Labour and Fine Gael councillors in 2012 after it was proposed by then county manager Owen Keegan, who has since left to become Dublin City manager. As well as a library and cultural facilities, it provides accommodation for officials with stunning views over Dublin Bay.
The Independents – local business people Rita O'Brien, Alan O'Reilly, Peter Kerrigan and Anthony Kenny – say many voters are convinced the library is a "gateway project" which will pave the way for other high-rise private development on the seafront.
In the past decade Dun Laoghaire Council has supported a variety of high-rise developments including one that could have placed a 10-storey high building on the site of the old baths. All failed due to local opposition and the recession.
The Independents say they have put their names forward so that people can register their disgust over the council's use of taxpayers' money to build the new edifice.
They are part of a group of disgruntled business owners, called the Dun Laoghaire Rate Payers Association, formed in January in response to the decline in the commercial centre of the town for which they blame the council executive.
They say the association was formed "in order to combat the fast destruction of Dun Laoghaire for retailers, inhabitants and visitors alike".
Rita O'Brien said: "The town is in need of regeneration, and symbolic of the uncommercial and reckless approach taken by the executive in Dun Laoghaire is this monstrosity being completed along the seafront. The first and number one issue on the doorsteps is the library. An estimated €35m to date has been spent on this structure and there is overwhelming support for its demolition. People also want a comprehensive breakdown on the costing to date and estimated maintenance and completion costs."
Peter Kerrigan said: "The library comes up all the time during canvasing, ahead of water rates or property tax.
"Dun Laoghaire Council needs a watchdog to supervise the spending of public money; business premises lie idle, parking is a nightmare and rates are sky high."
The town has one of the highest waiting lists for public housing in the country.