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€600,000 spent on new toilets for IDA head office

A GROUP of state agencies, including the IDA, spent almost €600,000 last year refurbishing the toilets in their shared office block – around €7,500 a toilet.

The work for 78 individual toilets worked out at €7,692 each, although the total cost included alterations and structural works over six floors, the Irish Independent has learnt.

The improvements in Wilton Park House in Dublin – dubbed the 'Wilton Hilton' by others in the public sector – were carried out because the "WC facilities are used by international investors and agency clients and were considered to be not of an acceptable standard", a spokesperson said.

The upgrade was also defended on the basis that the toilets were almost 30 years old, and some 24 blocks of three toilets each – plus six disabled toilets – were refurbished.

Wilton Park House is the headquarters and marketing office of Forfas, the advisory council on enterprise, trade and science, technology and innovation, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), and the IDA.

As well as the building costs, a retired civil servant was also rehired for two days to oversee the work on the toilets and bathrooms.

A statement from Forfas – which owns, operates and has overall responsibility for the building – said that this was considered necessary "given the services involved represent significant governance, risk management and compliance obligations".

It said: "The repair and refurbishment in Wilton Park House fell within the broad responsibilities of this individual."

The total bill came in at €577,996, with the IDA paying for almost half, Forfas around a third and the remainder divided between the SFI and SEAI.

Forfas itself is one of the agencies slated for abolition by the Coalition in its cull of the quangos.

The total spend was comprised of:

• €45,360 on professional and contract management fees and insurances.

• €187,246 on demolitions, alterations, structural works, completion of internal walls, floors and ceilings.

• €184,339 on mechanical, plumbing and electrical works.

• €161,050 on "sanitary ware" and the toilet cubicles themselves.

However, this total excluded VAT, which would push the overall spend above €600,000.

A spokeswoman said the office block housed around 450 staff "and there are over 13,000 visitors to the building annually, including major international investors and agency clients and stakeholders".

Irish Independent