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Dublin City Council is back to the drawing board for what to do with the old art deco building on Emmet Road that used to be the Inchicore library.
Last month, Sinn Féin Councillor Máire Devine asked for an update on the council’s plans. She got one line back.
“Active consideration is being given to the future use of this building,” said the response from council executive manager Paul Clegg.
It is more than two years since councillors voted through plans to refurbish the library to make it accessible and add space for more services, with the expectation that it would reopen as a library.
In October 2020, the council settled on a contractor, and the plan was to start work at the beginning of 2021, says a past response to councillors’ questions.
Restrictions in January 2021 meant that non-essential construction couldn’t go ahead, it says. “When those restrictions were lifted the preferred contractor informed the design team that they were unable to stand over their original tender price.”
The council at that point, in September 2021, was prepping to go back out to tender, officials told councillors.
A council spokesperson said on Tuesday that construction inflation was behind the more recent change in plans.
Another consideration is that, as it looks right now, the future council development of cost-rental and social homes and amenities on land at St Michael’s Estate would include a library.
“They are building a state-of-the-art one, so it kind of would be doubling up I suppose,” says Devine, who also sits on the regeneration board for St Michael’s Estate.
The council spokesperson said it is looking at ways to use the old art deco building for “community services”.
Devine says the old library has to be used in some way by the community. “A meeting place, a coffee place. It’s got to invite the community in.”
She has put in a question to council officials asking for wider public consultation about what it should become. “Just to get the conversation rolling.”
Said a council spokesperson: “The matter will be discussed with the Area Councillors at the appropriate time.”
Whatever it is used for, the council still has to grapple with making it universally accessible, said Devine.
As the old library has been closed, there’s been a temporary library at Richmond Barracks to serve Inchicore.
Labour Party Councillor Darragh Moriarty said that the limited services in the temporary library at Richmond Barracks may have been suitable during the pandemic.
“But now obviously, things are reopening, there will be demand for more use of that library,” he said.
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said that it plans to provide the same opening times at the temporary library in Richmond Barracks as it did at the old art deco library. “Six day opening with two late-nights a week.”
The availability of other spaces in Richmond Barracks, including the outdoor space, will mean they can provide a better range of activities than they had been able to in the old building, they said.
And “collaboration with the Dublin City Council Culture Company, who manage the building, will also lead to enhanced services”, said the spokesperson.