herald

Friday 18 August 2017

North City: Ex-Garda station to be revamped as city morgue by end of the year

The former Garda Station at Whitehall.
The former Garda Station at Whitehall.

THE city's new morgue will be built by the end of the year at the former Whitehall Garda Station with construction due to begin next month.

A previous plan to build a facility at the O'Brien Institute in Marino stalled when the economy plunged into recession.

Three years later, Whitehall Garda Station became one of the 31 stations around Ireland to close and last October planning permission was granted to turn the vacant building into the capital's morgue.

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"The purpose of the project is to move the two offices - Dublin City Mortuary (under Dublin City Council (DCC)) and the Office of the State Pathologist (under the Department of Justice and Equality (DJE)) from their current location adjacent to Fire Brigade Training Centre in Marino to refurbished accommodation at the former Whitehall Garda Station," read a letter from the Office of Public Works (OPW) last week, and seen by the Herald.

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The OPW is project managing the move of the morgue and pathologist's office to the Griffith Avenue location, on behalf of DCC and the DJE.

The OPW letter also said that tender documents were sent out to "short-listed" contractors last month and they were to be returned by this Friday.

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"Subject to relevant approvals, a mid-April 2015 start on site is envisaged.

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"It is anticipated that the construction phase of the project will take eight months to complete," added the letter.

A spokeswoman for the OPW confirmed to the Herald that the morgue and pathologist's office would be completed within the year.

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However, she would not state the cost of the project as the tenders for construction work were still out.

It is understood that the DJE is funding one-third of the cost of the build and DCC is covering the other two-thirds of it.

The failed project at the O'Brien Institute has already cost the taxpayer in the millions.

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When work began on the Marino site in 2010, then Justice Minister, Fianna Fail's Dermot Ahern, called the sod-turning ceremony a "milestone".

The DJE spent €2.8m on the project and DCC was hit for €1m of the cost, at the time.

Also as a result of the stalled project, three of the four state pathologists have had to use portacabins to carry out some of their administrative work. Autopsies were never carried out in the temporary offices.

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While locals had expressed objections to the closing of Whitehall garda station, just eight submissions were received by the OPW, during the public consultation process last winter.

Local Fine Gael councillor Noel Rock said the news that the project is going ahead soon will be welcomed by locals as there were fears that the building would be left vacant.

"I'd love to see Whitehall Garda Station reopen but, importantly, we've retained all 29 gardai associated with the station and this building is now going to be put to use before the end of 2015.

"There was a concern that it would be left idle among neighbours, so this is welcome news," he told the Herald.

Of the 29 garda, 28 went to Santry station and one was redeployed to Ballymun.

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