herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Varadkar 'appalled' as iconic chimneys could be destroyed

Poolbeg towers
Poolbeg towers

DUBLIN minister Leo Varadkar has said that he would be "appalled" if the city's iconic Poolbeg chimneys were torn down.

It comes as the minister was informed by the ESB that the towers could disappear from the capital's skyline.

Mr Varadkar wrote to ESB chief executive, Pat O'Doherty, on June 24 after noticing that the Dublin landmark was "not looking great".

He said that in his view, the stacks would benefit from some maintenance, such as painting.

"I believe, notwithstanding the costs, that money used for upgrading these iconic symbols of our city would be well spent, both for Dubliner and visitor alike," he said.

But the minister was concerned to learn that the semi-state was considering taking down the towers.

In his reply to Mr Varadkar, Mr O'Doherty said: "Maintaining disused towers is extremely complex and may not be the best use of resources, if possible at all."

The chief executive said that the ESB was reviewing all the issues associated with the long-term preservation of the towers.

He also said some people viewed the presence of the chimneys as "a blight on the landscape."

A decision on whether the towers will be maintained is due to be made by the end of this year, the minister was told.

Mr Varadkar today told the Herald that he was completely against removing the towers.

heritage

"The towers are iconic. They are a symbol of our city and part of our heritage.

"As a Dub and as tourism minister I'd be appalled if they were taken down," he said.

"We are currently reviewing possible options for the future of the site and hope to make a decision on the best means of managing the legacy station by the end of the year," a statement from the ESB said.

At 680ft-high, the chimneys are the largest structures in the capital and they have been part of the skyline for more than 40-years.

The closure of Poolbeg's oil-burning plant in 2010 led to concern about the future of the structures.

Councillor Dermot Lacey led a failed campaign to get the chimneys listed as protected structures.

"They have featured in many a painting, photograph, promotional video and film and should be protected. Perhaps they should now be painted in the Dublin colours, as in that famous Guinness ad," the city councillor said at the time.

Meanwhile the ESB plans to demolish and redevelop its Fitzwilliam Street headquarters at a cost of about €150m.

The proposal will be lodged with Dublin City Council next week.

The company late last year announced its intention to knock down the building designed by Sam Stephenson and Arthur Gibney in the 1960s and replace it with a development doubling the capacity of the existing offices.

lbyrne@herald.ie

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