WEXFORD County Council's new €46 million headquarters was officially opened by Minister Brendan Howlin on Friday afternoon.
Staff from the new County Hall and many invited guests comprised the large audience that gathered for the opening ceremony at the impressive building at Carricklawn.
Minister Howlin said he was ' truly delighted to have been asked to open this fantastic new building', noting that it brings the many services of Wexford County Council under the one roof for the first time.
He said the new building is ' a great addition to the landscape of the county and the country'.
Minister Howlin noted that in light of the challenges facing the country - and him in his role as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform - that it will be 'probably the last building of this type we can afford for a few years'.
County Council Chairman Oliver Walsh said that the old County Hall, the former County Gaol complex, had been the home of the local authority since 1930, but in 2007 the council decided to build new offices.
Cllr Walsh said that it had become clear that their home for almost eight decades 'couldn't provide adequate accommodation for the staff of the facilities that the public demand'.
He said it was 'a wise decision' to acquire a green field site and go ahead with the plans for a new HQ. Cllr Walsh congratulated architects Nord, which has since been renamed Robin Lee Architecture, and noted that the new County Hall is one of 12 buildings picked to contest the 'Civic and Community' category at this year's World Architecture Festival. He pointed out that there had been some 'unforeseen difficulties' during the project - not least the collapse of Pierse Contracting - but that the completed building is 'a vote of confidence in the future of local government and Co Wexford'. County Manager Eddie Breen said the project was ' a major investment' for the county that created a large number of jobs during its construction. He said the new County Hall greatly enhances the 'public fabric of facilities in Wexford', making it a better place to visit and invest in.
Mr Breen too pointed to the many difficulties experienced in the project, which was significantly delayed even before Pierse eventually collapsed.
The County Manager said that ' Murphy's Law kicked in', which culminated in Pierse going into liquidation 18 months ago with 62 sub contractors on site.
However, the council took on the project itself, retaining the same sub contractors, and eventually it was completed, with the council moving in over the summer. Mr Breen thanked the current council and their predecessors for their 'unstinting support'.