Council Rejects Vandalism Accusations
Galway City Council has rejected accusations of corporate vandalism following the demolition of a 19th Century townhouse on Forster St in December.
The property, at 19 Forster St, was demolished in December, with the work being completed this week. Derrick Hambleton of An Taisce claimed this week that the demolition was an act of “corporate vandalism” and that the building, a candidate for a listed building, was “worthy of protection”.
Mr Hambleton also claimed that the demolition happened “unbeknown to our elected representatives”, an allegation that was refuted by Galway City Council.
A spokesperson for Galway City Council said that the accusation of corporate vandalism had no basis in fact and that the Council “reluctantly” agreed to the demolition following consultations with several engineering firms.
Documents released by Galway City Council reveal that a Derelict Site Section 8(2) notice was issued on 3 September by the local authority on the joint receivers currently responsible for the property, formerly acquired by the Odeon developers’ syndicate.
A structural condition report received by Galway City Council on 10 December indicated that there were three possible options in relation to the building, including erecting supporting scaffolding and “competent repair of the structure”. The final option was demolition.
Following the issue of a notice under Section three of the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Act 1964 to the joint receivers, they subsequently engaged structural engineers from the O’Malley Group and Coyle-Kennedy Consulting Engineers, who advised that the two options which did not involve demolition were inadequate, “due to the property’s potential to collapse”.
The Council sought legal advice and the advice of Mr Brian Kelly of Tobin Consulting Engineers, who advised that while all three options were technically feasible, the concerns expressed by Coyle-Kennedy over “an unreasonably high health and safety risk” were valid.
On 19 December, Mr Kevin Swift, Director of Services for Housing and the Environment, then wrote to the city’s four Central Area Councillors advising them that the Council served notice on the joint receivers to demolish the property “in the interests of health and safety”.
It is understood that An Taisce has now written to Mr Tom Connell, Galway City Council’s Director of Service for Planning, to safeguard the future of two listed properties in the city, Taaffe’s Shop on Williamsgate St and other properties on 23 Quay St and 2 Quay Lane, which are in a state of disrepair.
Galway Independent - 20/01/13
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19 Forster Street