Tuesday 16 July 2019

Elite garda units could soon be forced to work out of prefabs

Harcourt Square, Inset GRA President Ciaran O'Neill
Harcourt Square, Inset GRA President Ciaran O'Neill

Elite gardai working with national units could soon be forced to work from prefabs when they have to vacate an office building in the coming weeks.

Harcourt Square houses specialist Garda units including the Special Detective Unit, the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, CAB, the Fraud Bureau and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, among others.

The Sunday World is reporting that real estate investment trust Hibernia REIT bought the site for €70m last year and the current lease on the building is due to expire next month.

Hibernia REIT plans to redevelop the site and last year received planning permission for the first phase of a redevelopment.

Harcourt Square
Harcourt Square

Gardaí will soon have to vacate the site and the Office of Public Works (OPW) has been asked to develop a new building where the national units will be based.

A development site on Military Road, near the Phoenix Park, has been recommended as the preferred site by a working group from OPW and Garda management.

However, that has yet to be signed off on and is unlikely to be ready for some time. In the meantime, gardaí will have to be temporarily rehoused.

It is understood prefabs were one of the suggestions put forward for temporary accommodation of some units.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has expressed concern at some of the suggested sites.

Ciaran O’Neill, who was elected President of the GRA at the annual conference in Killarney this week, is also the representative for specialist units based in Harcourt Square.

He said: “The Garda Representative Association are aware that the lease on Harcourt Square is due to expire in May 2016.

"We have entered a consultation process at a very late stage and we have a number of concerns that will be raising in that process. We are concerned in respect of some of the proposed temporary relocation sites and the standard of accommodation that will be provided.

“We have a particular concern that there is no budget allocation approved for the proposed new development that will permanently house the National Specialist Units in An Garda Síochána.”

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