THE Office of Public Works (OPW) is to press ahead with expensive renovations at Dublin Castle -- despite the economic downturn.
The public body has notified Dublin City Council of the intended works, including modifications to the State Apartments and the construction of a passenger lift.
Included in the plans are designs for tea rooms and an outdoor terrace, as well as the upgrade of mechanical and electrical services.
The changes to the historic building, which is a protected structure, will improve visitor facilities, accessibility and safety systems, according to the planning file.
The OPW did not reply to a request for a comment.
The lavish State Apartments were originally constructed as living accommodation for the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the architectural website Archiseek.com said.
However, the Lord Lieutenants tended to live in the Phoenix Park "except for Castle Season" when a series of balls was held at the castle.
"The Apartments are now only used for State occasions notably the inauguration of a new President and during the Irish Presidency of the European Union," Archiseek said.
The OPW notified the council of the proposed works on December 22 last.
Criticism has previously been levelled at the State organisation for carrying out expensive refurbishments.
The €33m spend on the new headquarters of the OPW was one of the most expensive projects under the Government's decentralisation programme.
The building in Trim, Co Meath, was completed in December 2008 at a cost of more than €19m, while €3.5m was spent on the site.
A further €11m was spent on its fit-out to accommodate 333 staff.
Then Ceann Comhairle John O'Donoghue's plush office in Leinster House cost taxpayers more than €100,000 in refurbishments.
Figures released by the OPW in 2008 showed that the cost of redecorating the toilets came to a staggering €58,712.
The office was also fitted out with new carpets, curtains and a brand new €1,000 chair.
The carpets were ordered in two batches -- the first costing €15,367 and the second coming to €14,367, while curtains cost €11,380.
Nearly €3m was spent in the previous two years renovating facilities at Leinster House including the Dail bar and broadcasting suites.
Also in 2008, nearly a quarter of a million euro was spent by the OPW on Bertie Ahern's new office.