| 4.5°C Dublin

Now they're getting new railings at Leinster House

PLANNING permission has been granted for new gates and decorative railings around Leinster House.

The Herald previously revealed how cash-strapped taxpayers will have to foot the bill to spruce up the appearance of, and improve security around, the political hub.

And it has now also emerged that the Green Party would like to see further changes to the protected structure.

Government backbencher Ciaran Cuffe has asked the Department of Finance to consider improving the "bleak, high-security feel" of the public space.

He wants the OPW to remove "tall railings dating from the late 20th century between the car park at the Kildare Street side of Leinster House and both the National Museum and the National Library complex, and replace them with lower railings so as to vastly improve the rather bleak, high-security feel to this fine public space".

In reply, Fianna Fail's Martin Mansergh, who oversees such work, says it is at the bequest of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission in the first instance, and that it had made the suggestion.

However, the green light has been given for new railings and set of gates on the Merrion Street side of Leinster House, controlling pedestrian access to, and exit from, Leinster Lawn.

In recent days, An Bord Pleannala signed off on application for the works on what is a protected structure.

Officials said: "The Planning Authority has examined the proposal and has no objection to the development as currently proposed."

The Herald revealed the plans after also outlining how €9m has been spent on building upgrades at Leinster House since 2003.

The expenditure included a €628,000 paint job in 2008, a spend of €100,000 on two toilets and €61,000 on Waterford Crystal. In relation to the latest improvements, a spokesperson for the Office of Public Works said that it was necessary to improve security access via Merrion Street.

"Vehicular access is controlled by means of a security barrier operated by the usher positioned at the gate.

"The area is distinguished from the pedestrian zone by means of a low-level, decorative railing. At present there is no barrier or gate system in place to control pedestrian access."

She added: "All work will be carried out in-house with ironmongery being manufactured at our workshops in Inchicore and the installation carried out by Building Maintenance Services."