A CENTURY-old library where a new social welfare office was planned has been saved following a timely intervention by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton.
Residents were outraged after learning of a proposal to move the Carnegie Library, which first opened its doors in 1905, from the town hall building in the heart of Balbriggan in north Co Dublin, to make way for a new social welfare office.
The plans were part of the Department of Social Protection's national roll-out of new Intreo offices, welfare offices dubbed one-stop shops where the unemployed can receive jobseekers benefit as well as advice on returning to work.
The proposal by Fingal County Council would have seen the new Intreo office installed in the Balbriggan Town Hall building with the library moved to the Gallen Mill close to its current location.
However following a number of demonstrations by locals who also collected over 5,000 signatures on a petition to save the library, a specially convened meeting was held by Fingal County Council this week.
At that meeting, acting county manager Peter Caulfield told councillors a "compromised arrangement" had been reached following the outpouring of support to retain the library in its present location.
"That compromised arrangement involves retaining the library where it is and I'm in a position to give that undertaking today and locate the Intreo office in the Gallen Mills. So that second option is the option under exploration," he said.
He added that the decision to preserve the library had followed an intervention by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton who wrote to the people of Balbriggan informing them her department was now considering other locations in the town for the new centre.
"While using the library premises has been considered as an option, the Department is now of the view that an alternative location would be more appropriate.
"The Department's officials are now engaging with the OPW with a view to identifying a location which would best meet the Department's requirements," Minister Burton said.
Brigid Dervan, one of the organisers of the campaign to save the library, told the Herald the groundswell of opposition to the move was what saved the library.
"We are delighted our library is staying where it is because the minute I got the protest going against it, it was just absolutely incredible to see how strongly everyone got behind it."