Tuesday 20 August 2019

Taoiseach backs fire audit plans for historic buildings

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

John Downing and Allison Bray

The devastating fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris means the Government will consider a major review of fire precautions at Irish historic buildings, the Taoiseach has said.

Leo Varadkar said such a review "could be a good idea" and he would consult the housing and heritage ministers about such a move.

The Taoiseach was replying to Labour leader Brendan Howlin who raised the issue yesterday. Mr Varadkar said a fire precautions review had taken place on apartment blocks following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in London last summer. Asked whether there are any plans afoot for an audit at such heritage buildings as Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral or St Patrick's Cathedral, he said it could ensure they are equipped with the latest fire protection systems.

Mr Howlin said the Notre-Dame fire "should be a wake-up call" for Ireland's heritage property managers and suggested a fund for both private and public sectors to "ensure we take preventive measures in advance".

Meanwhile, Notre-Dame Cathedral will be resurrected despite the devastating fire that gutted the 850-year-old landmark, according to an Irish priest living in Paris. Fr Aidan Troy said despite the heartbreaking fire that destroyed the landmark's iconic 19th century spire and left much of the world-famous church in ruins, all is not lost.

Speaking on RTÉ's 'Six One News' last night, the parish priest at Paris's St Joseph's Church said he expects a massive turnout at Saint-Sulpice Church in Paris as part of Holy Week celebrations in solidarity for the beloved cathedral, which he termed "a great friend".

"It's almost like Notre-Dame will also rise with Christ this Easter," he predicted.

The 17th century Left Bank landmark was also damaged when fire broke out there briefly on St Patrick's Day. But Fr Troy - who made headlines around the world during the Holy Cross school protests by loyalists in 2001 - said it could have been much worse.

Irish Independent

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