Thursday, 7 February 1974
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Lemass: asked the Minister for Local Government if he will reconsider his decision regarding the proposed location of the Dublin civic offices with special regard to the suggestion that the old city walls be maintained as a feature of such development as was done in Cologne.
Following receipt of a report from the city manager on the civic offices project, which included an assessment of the possibilities of using an alternative site for the development, I discussed the matter with a deputation from the Dublin City Commissioners. I conveyed to the deputation the misgivings of the Government regarding the use of the Wood Quay/Winetavern Street site for civic offices because of its significant location in relation to Christ Church, its archaeological importance and its value as an open space in the context of the Government's desire to develop The Liberties and surrounding areas for housing.
 The matter was again discussed with a deputation from the commissioners and I have been notified that the commissioners at their meeting on 4th instant passed a resolution recommending that the offices be built on the Wood Quay/Winetavern Street site subject to a regrouping of the buildings in accordance with a plan submitted by the consultants. The matter is being examined and I hope to give the Government's views on this recommendation at an early date.
Mr. Lemass: I am sure the Minister is aware that if the civic offices are not built on this site and if it is developed as an open space it will probably be the most expensive civic park in the world.
Mr. Lemass: Is the Minister aware that I was on Dublin Corporation when these plans were first drawn up and one of the considerations given to the architect was that the amenity of Christ Church must be preserved so that it could be viewed from the river and, I think, from O'Connell Bridge.
Mr. Tully: I am not so aware but I can assure the Deputy that the man who makes the report is perfectly entitled to offer his opinion but the right of a Minister to make a decision is there. If he is not entitled to operate that right then it should not be there. I make no apology to anybody for holding up the civic offices until the right decision is made.
Mr. Molloy: The Minister questioned Deputy Lemass's qualifications to comment on trees in the countryside. Does the Minister consider that he personally is better qualified than the inspector who wrote the report to comment on matters of planning and the environment?
Mr. Tully: All the matters which were taken into consideration when this matter was being considered were matters which the officer who made the report might not be the most competent person to report on. As far as I am concerned, the matter is being dealt with in a reasonable way and no effort by the Opposition to try to mess it up will succeed.
Mr. Haughey: The Minister will accept that perhaps the most competent and fully authorised body of people to have a final view in this situation is Dublin Corporation or, as they are known, the members of the Dublin City Commissioners?
Mr. Tully: I am inclined to agree with the Deputy that if the Dublin City Commissioners have made a recommendation, and I understand they have made a unanimous recommendation, cognisance must be taken of what they say. They are people who should know. I quite agree.
Mr. Tully: Yes, but do not forget that at one stage there were no Dublin City Commissioners to make such a decision and I wanted to prevent a decision being taken by somebody and palmed off as being the decision of the elected representatives of Dublin city.
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