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Old Lady of D'Olier St set to pack her bags

LARISSA NOLAN THE Old Lady of D'Olier Street will have to find a new nickname - the Irish Times is waiting to hear if an offer on a new Dublin city premises has been accepted.

The self-styled "newspaper of record" will leave its present home after 50 years and move to a new building within a year, management hopes.

A difficulty in securing an offer on a new premises is delaying the move. A number of locations are being considered, with one offer on the table. "We have put in an offer on a place, but it hasn't been accepted yet," Irish Times Managing Editor Eoin McVey said. "I can't say where it is because that will affect the procedure. We have had plenty of offers and interest from developers but we have to find exactly the right place."

He also confirmed that there had been no offer on the D'Olier Street premises, which is expected to sell for an estimated ?15m.

But talk that the newspaper, which employs 500 people, would move within weeks was unfounded, he said. "There is a lot to do yet - moving everything is a big job and then you have the fitting-out period for a new building. It will be at least nine months before we leave here."

He said the decision to re-locate was not financial but because the D'Olier St building was not suited to its use as a newspaper office.

"It doesn't lend itself well to a paper and much of the premises is made up of Georgian houses and not open plan. It is an antiquated building and not suitable," Mr McVey said.

The old printing presses, now defunct, at the bottom of the building could be pulled out to make more space for the new owner.

Management at the paper has shown an interest in a number of new premises, all on the southside.

A source at the paper said its offices would definitely remain in the city, but will not go north of the Liffey.

One said: "Rumours abounded about where exactly we are going to go, but nobody really knows.

"There is talk that we could be heading for an office building on the south quays, but I've heard the same thing about Tara Street and Pearse Street. It is fairly sure that we will stay on the southside, a northside location has not been mentioned.

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At a meeting between management and staff at the paper last June, it was announced that the Irish Times had decided "in principle" to move.

Moving was just one option outlined to staff at the meeting but it was made clear that staying in the existing premises was not a realistic option.

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