Campaign to protect Hume Street hospital from damage by thieves

Fri, Feb 18, 2011, 00:00

A CAMPAIGN to save Dublin’s Hume Street hospital building from destruction has begun after thieves began stealing its roofs and interiors.

Lead has been removed from the roofs of the terrace of five interconnecting Georgian houses on Hume Street, off St Stephen’s Green, and water is seeping into the protected structures’ interiors.

Locals have seen men removing pipes, water tanks, copper and general fixtures and fittings from the building.

There is also visible damage to gutters and downpipes on the outside of the building and water is soaking into the brickwork. Access to the buildings at basement level is not secure.

Last week, gardaí from Harcourt Terrace arrested six men who were found in the building and they have since been charged with trespass.

The protected structures were built in 1768 and the street was named after the family of surgeon Gustavus Hume.

Father of geology Richard Griffin was born in number 8 and the buildings were home to the City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital for over 100 years until 2006. They incorporate most of the terrace on the south side of the street.

The buildings are owned by businessman Michael Kelly, of Glandore Business Centres, and have been vacant since 2006, when he purchased them for €30 million.

He had intended to develop the block into a business centre, but two planning applications, lodged in 2007 and 2008, were rejected by Dublin City Council.

Sister and brother Peter and Maeve McCarthy have begun a campaign to prevent further damage to the buildings.

They said the buildings were “being treated like fiscal assets on a balance sheet instead of an invaluable part of the country’s heritage”.

They are hoping to gather a community of artists and other interested people to raise awareness of the problems and have set up a website (irishartistsalliance.com) to that end.

They warned that recessions of the past led to the destruction of large parts of the historical architecture of Dublin, including Mountjoy Square, Gardiner Street and buildings off Merrion Square.

“We cannot allow this to happen again.

“Legislation has been introduced that should ensure that this does not happen. However, no authority appears to have taken appropriate and necessary steps,” they said.

They called for a professional contractor to be employed to begin emergency repairs.

“It will be a matter of weeks before rainfall permanently damages the interior of these buildings,” Mr McCarthy said.

A spokesman for Dublin City Council said their conservation section was informed by locals about the acts of vandalism to the listed building.

“Our planning enforcement section will deal with these reports as a matter of urgency,” he said.

The buildings’ owner, Mr Kelly, said he did not want to comment, but confirmed he had called gardaí on a number of occasions in the last 10 days following break-ins to his property.