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Friday 22 August 2014

County council moves into stately Malahide castle

Daniel McConnell

Published 22/06/2014 | 02:30

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Malahide Castle

It is a home fit for a noble lord of the English and Norman aristocracy and, it seems, county councillors – even fiercely republican Sinn Fein.

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The splendour of the 900-year-old Malahide Castle is to be the venue for Fingal County Council meetings until the end of the year, it has emerged.

The castle, built in the 12th century, is now to house the county council meetings because the council chamber at County Hall in Swords will be out of action for up to six months. The chamber is to undergo extensive redevelopment work in order to facilitate the increase in councillor numbers from 24 to 40.

The Project Room at Malahide Castle, which boasts over 250 acres of splendid gardens, was the venue for the AGM on June 6. As the meeting proved successful, the venue is to be used for the monthly meetings of the new council when its newly elected members resume work after the summer break.

Responding to Sunday Independent queries, the council said the venue was chosen because it is owned by Fingal County Council and is of sufficient size to accommodate the meetings. The room is part of a franchise arrangement and a booking fee of €250 per meeting applies, a spokeswoman added.

The need to facilitate and accommodate an additional 16 council members has been the catalyst for the refit of council chamber.

The local elections saw 40 councillors returned to Fingal County Council instead of the usual 24, so the council chamber will have to be completely reconfigured to accommodate the greater numbers.

The length of time the council chamber will be out of action caused some surprise among councillors who wondered why the project was not further along, given that the need to remodel the chamber had been known for some time.

But council officials explained that a long tendering and procurement process had to be entered into.

According to Fingal County Council, the increase in the number of councillors required a redesign of the seating arrangements in the chamber. The council said it was not able to provide costs of the redesign project because of commercial sensitivities.

This work could not be undertaken until the business of the previous council was concluded. Due to the age of the audio and visual facilities the opportunity of the redesign was taken to upgrade the full suite of communication facilities.

Sunday Independent

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