Demolition of Smithfield building is ‘criminal’ says councillor

by Rachel Darcy

The demolition of a prominent part of a heritage building in Smithfield has been blasted as a ‘criminal’ and ‘shameful destruction’.

A section of the Old Irish Distillers Building was demolished, following approval from Dublin City Council.

The site is currently being developed by Linders of Smithfield, who own a number of car dealerships in the Dublin area.

The former Irish Distillers building was a well-regarded office scheme, having been sensitively converted from an old spirits store in the 1970s.

An Taisce have lashed out at the destruction of the historical building, saying that the entirety of the Smithfield locality – and Bow Street where the building is located – are a designated Conservation Area under the Dublin City Development Plan, 2016–22.

They say that under the planning permission given in 2016, the construction of an office development by the company was to include incorporation of part of the building.

When contacted by Dublin Gazette, Dublin City Council said: “Approval was given… to demolish the building except for the eastern wall but when the demolition happened, the developer discovered a structural issue which meant that the eastern wall would also need to be demolished.

Dublin City Council gave approval for this on Health and Safety grounds. However, the developer has been instructed to rebuild the eastern wall as part of the works.”

In a statement, An Taisce said: “There is an established procedure for retaining a historic façade, which was not followed.

Modern building conservation practice allows easy remedy of any stability problems arising in historic structures, through provision of structural support prior to demolition.

Demolition of the structure, required to be maintained as part of the planning permission, is unjustifiable.

Dublin City Council is requested to invoke the provisions under planning legislation to levy an appropriate substantial financial penalty, reflecting the gravity of the unauthorised action taken by Linders of Smithfield.”

Dubliners have been reacting with anger to the demolition, with many remarking how sad it was that one of the city’s historical buildings could be so easily destroyed. Several people on social media also called for those responsible for the building’s destruction to be prosecuted.

Cllr Andrew Keegan (PBP) said: “As a construction worker who has worked on the restoration of that same building over 20 years ago it disgusts me that such vandalism could be carried out with impunity without thought for the heritage of our city.

“If the financial gain is greater than the punishment, we will see more destruction in our city of heritage sites like this.”

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