Thursday, 16 October 2008

Council to decide if former church must be rebuilt

DUBLIN CITY Council will decide today whether a former church in Dublin will have to rebuilt following its partial illegal demolition early yesterday morning.

A notice ordering the cessation of the demolition of the former Methodist Church and schoolhouse at Jones's Road was issued on Tuesday night following complaints from local residents that demolition had begun.

The enforcement notice requires the owner of the structure to cease further demolition, to reinstate parts of the building that were demolished "by April 14th, 2009" and to reinstate the cast-iron front boundary railings.

John Reilly, buildings inspector with the council, said yesterday that despite the notice being issued, "apparently at about 6am this morning, the front of the building was attacked with a JCB. It is now unsafe and the priority has to be to make it safe, which will probably mean taking it down piece by piece".

The Garda was called to the site twice on Tuesday night as attempts were apparently under way to begin demolition. There was concern last night the building would be a safety hazard as crowds passed it on their way to last night's international soccer match at neighbouring Croke Park.

Mr Reilly said the structure was not a listed building, but since new rules were introduced in June, permission was required to demolish an industrial building greater than 100sq m. The building is about 400sq m. It dates back to 1881 and until a fortnight ago, was used as a leather-furniture salesroom.

He said planning permission for its demolition probably would have been granted, but an attempt had clearly been made to circumvent the process. Anthony Gannon of Meena Plant Hire, who was contracted to carry out the demolition, was at the site yesterday morning. He said his intention was to comply with the notice and had arrived on-site at 8am yesterday with council officers to assess how compliance would be achieved.

"And this is the mess that was here. I don't know who did this," he said. The front and left-hand side of the building had been razed. One JCB was visible inside and another adjacent to the building. He said he didn't know who owned them.

A member of the Garda was at the site yesterday and the demolition of the front facade is now under criminal investigation.

Mr Gannon said he had not been able to get in touch with the owner. "I can't contact him at the moment." Attempts by The Irish Times to contact the owner were also unsuccessful. The plan for the site was to build apartments, Mr Gannon said.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Christy Burke said it was "nothing but thuggery and vandalism". He said if the council deemed it necessary for the building to be taken down, it would be "playing into the hands of cowboys".

The Irish Times

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