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Inchicore Library Building Falls Into Disrepair On Council’s Watch

Inchicore Library Building Falls Into Disrepair On Council’s Watch – Aidan Crowley provides details of the sorry situation of Inchicore Library

By: Aidan Crowley:

The ongoing saga of the future of Inchicore Public Library Heritage Building has taken a new twist, with the recent revelation that there are now thirty-nine critical flaws to the building that all require urgent attention.

The old art deco building on Emmet Road, opened in 1937, has been closed and left empty since late 2019 and is now showing signs of major structural problems. These include dampness and mould, cracked walls, loose brickwork and fire safety issues.

According to a recent engineer’s report, compiled by The Building Consultancy and commissioned by Dublin City Council (DCC), these thirty-nine critical flaws need to be addressed within a year to avoid structural damage to the building.

“We would recommend having the cracking further investigated to ensure the structural integrity is not impacted”, the report states.

Last winter, a burst pipe caused part of the ceiling to collapse inside the building, which DCC had only just listed as a protected structure under the Record of Protected Structures (RPS). Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, “owners of protected structures are obliged to protect them from endangerment, whether through neglect, decay, damage or harm”.

Local activist, Michael O’ Flanagan, who is secretary of the Kilmainham and Inchicore Heritage Group and also chairperson of the Inchicore Library Advisory Committee, wants DCC to respond quickly to these latest concerns. He now wants the council to formulate an urgent plan to return the building to its former glory.

O’ Flanagan explained that he previously sought and received assurances from Richard Shakespeare, who is DCC’s Assistant Chief Executive for the Planning and Property Development and Culture, Recreation and Economic Services Department, regarding the upkeep of the building. Both Shakespeare and the local area manager assured him that the building would be checked on a regular basis, after the library service, Libraries Ireland,  handed it over to the council’s property management section. However, according to O’ Flanagan, that never happened and now the advisory group is seeking an urgent meeting with Shakespeare.

According to O’ Flanagan, staff checked the building regularly when the library service had control over it, even ensuring that the heating was operating efficiently. He said that the building has served local community and artistic uses in the past, in addition to being the local library. It has hosted art exhibitions, poetry readings and other cultural activities, he added.

Local Sinn Fein Councillor, Maire Devine, has also weighed in, on this latest controversy surrounding the library building: “It reminds me of the Iveagh Markets. It’s neglect”, she said. “The council has a responsibility to maintain these types of beautiful old buildings and especially those that are on the record of protected structures. It really is so disheartening”, she added.

“The full refurbishment will be expensive and won’t happen immediately. So, an interim plan to protect the building is needed”, she continued.

She now wants an urgent meeting between the Inchicore Library Advisory Committee and the DCC, to work out a viable strategy for the building’s restoration. “I still want to know how we can patch it up and try to keep it alive”, she concluded.

The critical problems listed in the engineer’s report are many and varied: “Significant dampness was noted on the walls and ceilings throughout. The building needs to be damp-proofed immediately and the heating should be regularly switched on”, it says.

According to the report, the building also needs a complete overhaul when it comes to fire safety issues, having discovered multiple breaches of fire regulations.

An asbestos survey was carried out and it revealed that some of the substance was present, but that no particles were airborne. It recommended that “a competent asbestos removing company is appointed and all asbestos products removed safely”.

Many of the building’s windows are significantly corroded and the council should hire a specialist windows conservation company to repair them, according to the report. Besides the thirty-nine critical issues are eighteen additional ones, that are deemed less urgent, but still important.

Back in January 2020, councillors voted through plans to refurbish the Inchicore Public Library building, mainly to improve user accessibility. The proposed works were also to include maintenance and landscaping , new public spaces, inside and outside and the addition of new new toilet facilities.

The original proposal was for the building to re-open as a public library. This was at least until the council had built a new, state-of-the-art library, as part of the major new housing development which is being planned for the former St. Michael’s Estate, further down Emmet Road.

The council hired a building contractor to carry out the necessary works, but then the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the whole process. In March last year, a DCC spokesperson said that due to both pandemic-related delays to the project and the issue of construction inflation, it was re-considering the building’s future use.

Devine submitted a series of questions to council managers in February last year, calling for a public consultation forum, to discuss what the future use for the building should be.

“The matter will be discussed with the Area Councillors at the appropriate time”, said a council spokesperson, at the time.

A petition which was launched last summer, calling on DCC to repair the library building before last autumn, currently boasts 544 signatures.

“The building has been empty for two years and is unheated. Refurbishment works are urgently needed before the autumn wet weather sets in”, according to the petition.

Then, last December, the pipe burst in the ceiling of the building, causing major damage to the structure. Devine said that wouldn’t have happened , if someone had been conducting regular checks.

A further blow to amenities in the locality is the recent closure of the parish centre, adjacent to St. Michael’s Church, also on Emmet Road. The centre is earmarked for demolition, to make way for the council’s new housing project, dubbed as the Emmet Road development, on lands at the former St. Michael’s Estate.

According to O’ Flanagan, the library service handed the library building over to DCC’s property management section last summer. “The building was added to the record of protected structures last November”, he said.

The committee had several meetings with council managers about accessing the building. “They told us they would provide interim access”, he explained.

However, shortly after that, the pipe burst in the attic of the building. He now understands that the council envisages that the entire refurbishment works will take three years.

“The public has a right to know what happened”, he concluded.



2 Responses

  1. Brett says:

    “Protected” now as a preserved library with severe alternative use limitations, it should mirror the development investment at Ringsend and return as a functioning library as to many’s wish in the local community.

  2. It is a mistake to view the dereliction of the Libo in isolation. It is part of what authoritarian officials and cllrs think is good enough for Inchicore. A town of this size wants its own shopping centre – not a supermarket but a fully fledged shopping centre. Instead Inchicore is told that shops are good enough for you. Moreover, the Michaels Estate development will have a supermarket, library and community centre. Thus the Libo becomes suplus to requirements as both a library and as a community centre. It has no future as a public facility.

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