WORK HAS begun on the restoration of Leinster Lawn after 10 years’ use as a Dáil car park. The lawn was dug up and the area covered in tarmac to provide extra parking during the building of offices in Leinster House.
The extra 68 car parking spaces were used by Dáil officials, party political staff and journalists. TDs and Senators have their own reserved parking area.
An undertaking was given when the lawn, on the Merrion Square side of the 18th-century Leinster House building, was dug up in 1999 that it would be restored to its original condition. Work has finally begun on the project which will cost €230,000.
Fine Gael Dublin South TD Alan Shatter has condemned the project as “lunacy” at a time of unprecedented economic crisis.
Chairman of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, Tom Hayes from Tipperary South, who is a member of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, said they had no option but to restore the lawn.
“We have to abide by the rules and regulations. The Houses of the Oireachtas couldn’t be seen to break the planning regulations when ordinary people have to do it,” he said.
A spokesman for the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, also backed the plan to restore the lawn. Mr Gormley believed the people of Dublin would prefer the lawn to “an ugly car park”, said a spokesman. The Office of Public Works plans to hire 29 extra car park spaces in other city centre locations to compensate for the loss of the lawn.