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Justice Department HQ closed as burst pipe causes bedlam

THE headquarters of the Department of Justice on St Stephen's Green will be shut for "weeks" after a burst pipe flooded the building.

Over 70 staff members have been relocated from the building, which includes the offices of the Minister for Justice and the Secretary-General.

A spokesperson for the department told the Herald that an exposed pipe burst over the weekend, and was only discovered at 7am Monday morning -- by which time the water had reached the basement.

"Unfortunately, the water flowed into a central communications chamber and basically shorted the entire building" he said.

A team from the Office of Public Works are currently undergoing a serious rewiring of the building and the time-frame for their work is not yet known. However, the spokesperson from the department said that they would have to work in "total darkness".

The department claim that they are functioning as normal but it is "messy" at this stage as vital files and information remains in the St. Stephen's Green site.

"Obviously our landlines are down and we have had to leave files in the building but thanks to modern communication, we have our laptops and mobiles, we are operating from a virtual office".

The majority of the staff from the St Stephen's Green offices have been relocated to Department of Justice offices at Pinebrook House, on Harcourt Street.

Maintenance work will have to be stepped up as the Department's lease on Pinebrook House is up at the end of March.

The Department took out a lease on Pinebrook House in July 2005, until March 2015. However, there is a break clause to leave the contract in March after four years and it has chosen not to renew the contract.

Deputy Noel Ahern, in an answer to parliamentary question posed to the Finance Department in 2008, outlined that rent for the building cost €1.619m per annum.



Rent

This means that the taxpayer has forked out €6.4m in rent.

Around 200 civil servants based there will be moved around the corner to the former Office of Public Works building on St Stephen's Green.

The 200 civil servants will occupy the offices previously vacated by the Office of Public Works (OPW), which was relocated to Trim in Co Meath under the decentralisation programme -- a move which the Finance Minister claimed would save €8m over five years.

"The availability of the OPW building on St Stephen's Green has provided an opportunity to utilise state-owned property and make significant savings in terms of rents."

hnews@herald.ie


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