Wednesday 24 July 2019

Restoration of Leinster House set to cost over €17m, more than twice original estimate

Leinster House
Leinster House
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

THE restoration of Leinster House is set to cost more than twice the original estimate, the Dáil's spending watchdog has been told.

The work is to be completed by the time TDs return after the summer recess.

Peter Finnegan, the secretary general of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service gave the update on the project – which is set to cost more than €17m – to the Dáil’s spending watchdog this morning.

Major refurbishments have been ongoing at the 273-year-old building for some time.

A 2006 report identified a number of fire hazards at Leinster House.

Financial constraints meant work only commenced after the Seanad was moved next door to the National Museum of Ireland.

It was originally estimated that the refurbishment would cost €8m but additional problems with the building were discovered during the course of the work.

In January OPW minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said he believed the ultimate costs would be more than €15m.

It emerged this week that the cost will be as high as €17.5m.

Asked about this figure Mr Finnegan conceded "it's not far off it".

He said reasons for the overspend included the need for additional fire-proofing and how the requirement for some of the work was not known before the contractors arrived on site.

Mr Finnegan defended the costs highlighting the quality of the work and the age of the building.

He said that if the cost is averaged out over the building's 275 age it is "outstanding value for money".

Earlier he told TDs that "essential restoration and structural works" on the Georgian-era building have been overseen by the Office of Public Works.

"I’m very pleased to be able to report that the sittings of the Houses and their Committees continued uninterrupted during this work," he said.

Mr Finnegan added: "The work will be completed in time for the return of the Houses after the summer recess.

"The OPW briefed the commission on Tuesday and the handover of the building takes place on the 2nd of August so all is on track."

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