Council had been ‘given notice’ of O’Rahilly demolition

by Sylvia Pownall

Dublin City Council had two weeks’ prior notice of the developer’s date to demolish the home of 1916 leader The O’Rahilly, planning documents reveal.

Files from the council’s planning enforcement section released under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that DCC was informed of plans to flatten 40 Herbert Park.

An email on behalf of the developer says correspondence was sent to the council on September 14 giving notice that it would commence the demolition and site clearance work.

The email states that the demolition contractor gave notice to the city council on September 15 that work would commence on September 29.

It advised: “See commencement notice (ref no)… The city council confirmed, by return that the notice was deemed valid and requested us to ensure that works do not commence before September 29.

“The demolition and site clearance work commenced, as notified, on September 29, under and in accordance with all applicable laws.

“I understand that you inspected the site during 29 September and observed the demolition work in progress.

“You requested that our demolition contractor cease work. He did immediately.”

Bulldozers moved in on the historic O’Rahilly House at 40 Herbert Park before dawn on September 29.

Within hours it was reduced to rubble to make way for a block of luxury apartments and a hotel development.

The demolition, which was approved under planning permission from An Bord Pleanala, was the subject of a council debate shortly before it was carried out.

Two weeks earlier councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour of having O’Rahilly House listed as a protected structure.

Cllr Daniel Ceitinn (SF), who obtained the FOI documents, this week welcomed the High Court approval for judicial review of the demolition of the historic Ballsbridge home.

He said the documents from the council’s planning section relating to the demolition were “very concerning”.

He added: “These documents show that the council was informed by the developer on 14 September that the demolition would go ahead on 29 September, something not included in the timeline issued to City Councillors … on 2 October.

“How did it happen that the council had two weeks’ notice of the demolition but only decided that all planning conditions were not met AFTER the demolition? We will be demanding answers from the Chief Executive on this.”

James Connolly Heron, spokesman for the 1916 Relatives Alliance, said reports that city officials were put on notice but took no steps to prevent the demolition were “truly shocking”.

He told Dublin Gazette it “represents a new low for planning in our capital city” and described the loss of the historic property as an act of vandalism against the State.

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