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Sunday 20 October 2019

'Nobody told me about it' - McDowell's Leinster House office was home to dead rat

Senator Michael McDowell
Senator Michael McDowell

A large, dead rat was found by pest controllers at the Leinster House office of Independent senator Michael McDowell.

The grim discovery was among a large number of incidents involving rodents and creepy-crawlies in parliamentary buildings during the past two years.

These included "slug issues" in a kitchen; ants at a water dispenser; a mouse in a canteen; woodlice in a utility room and a rat that ran riot in the Dail bar for three days last July.

Pest controllers found a dead rat behind a radiator cover in the office of Mr McDowell in July 2018. However, the former tanaiste and justice minister was kept in the dark.

"Nobody ever told me about a dead rat being found in my office, which is strange," he said yesterday.

A second dead rat was found on the same day in the floor void of a kitchenette near Mr McDowell's office, which is located in the LH2000 annex of Leinster House.

A week later, another decomposing rat was located in the wall cavity of an unnamed senator's office, which was near the toilets in LH2000. However, the rodent's body could not be retrieved and an "odour block" had to be deployed to mask the smell.

Inspection reports released under the Freedom of Information Act also show that pest controllers were called in response to a "bad smell" coming from under the floor in the security office at the front gate of Leinster House in May 2017.

Investigations identified "an old rat nest and droppings" as the source of the odour.

A second nest was found under the floor at the sliding pedestrian door, while a third area of rat activity was located under the turnstile controller.

Pest controllers also discovered an infestation of pigeons at an external door beside the creche facility in May 2017. They warned that the build-up of bird faeces in this area constituted a "disease risk and safety hazard", recommending a deep clean.

They raised concerns again the following month and, in September, the pest controllers reiterated that "pigeon fouling needs to be removed".

Infestation

However, inspection reports reveal that it was not until July 2018 - more than a year after Leinster House authorities were warned of a safety risk to people using the creche area - that a clean-up was finally carried out.

An infestation of black ants in a kitchen in April 2017 was blamed on a "build-up of organic matter" underneath a food prep area.

In June 2017, "heavy slug activity" in a kitchen area was reported to the pest control company, while more rats were detected in the ceiling voids of LH2000 in May 2018.

Records show that the amount spent on pest control at Leinster House has soared. It was €2,624 in 2017, €9,222 last year and €16,582 up to the end of August this year.

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