Thieves cause €100,000 in damage during daring St Senan's Raid
The new owners of the old St Senan's Hospital building have been dealt a major setback in their ongoing remedial works at the iconic building, after thieves broke in, scaled one of the towers and stripped it of copper and lead, causing an estimated €100,000 worth of damage in the process.
A group headed by Bree native and MD of NitroFert Eamonn Galavan, took possession of the building a year ago and in that time, they've been carrying work out on fixing the roof and securing the site ahead of reaching the planning phase to install approximately 60 luxury apartments in the protected building.
While he had been delighted with the progress made, Mr Galavan was left fuming when he found that the site had been broken into and one of the towers had been stripped of lead and copper piping. While fencing had been erected right around the site, the thieves cut through the fence and entered at a point that was right in between two of the 28 CCTV cameras that monitor the site. At this point they entered through a window and dangerously scaled the tower before stripping it and causing major damage.
'I've been told that it will cost somewhere in the region of €100,000 to put right,' a dejected Mr Galavan said. 'All of that for stuff that would have a scrap value of about €1,000. We were making great progress up to this point. We had done the whole roof to the rear. Now though, it feels like we've taken one step forward and two steps back.'
Given the scale of the operation, it is believed there must have been several people involved and it appears that they would have had vehicles parked up on the main N11 road. Gardaí are currently investigating the matter and Mr Galavan believes that they are following a definitive line of enquiry.
'This is a local operation,' he said. 'They knew exactly what they were doing. Of the five towers here at St Senan's, three of them have now been stripped and I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same gang that did it this time.'
Mr Galavan says that, for the most part, the support for the project has been phenomenal from the people of Enniscorthy, who were anxious to see something done with the building rather than witnessing it fall to rack and ruin as happened to the old hospital building in Wexford town.
'The goodwill has been absolutely fantastic,' he said. 'This building is really synonymous with Enniscorthy and people feel a real sense of belonging for this place. I would say that 99% of people really want us to succeed. Unfortunately, then there's the one percent who cause problems like this.'
Mr Galavan was also staunch in his praise for Wexford County Council and the support that they have given the project.
'The council has taken a very pragmatic and practical approach to the whole thing,' he said. 'They are very supportive of our efforts and of what we're trying to do here and we need their support.'
It's still very early days for the project and the only work that's being done currently is to fix the roof and secure the site, however, architects have been appointed and Mr Galavan is hopeful of having some more concrete plans early next year.
'We actually had a competition to appoint an architect,' he explained. 'There was a total of 16 architects from across Ireland and the UK who presented their cases. Then we narrowed this down to three before we decided to go with GKMP and Michael Pike, who actually does some lecturing in UCD as well. As well as that we've got wonderful builders in Eddie Murphy contractors, who are a local firm. Once we get this remedial work done, we'll hopefully come up with a concrete plan early next year.'