Pressure mounts for BofI move from HQ


The Government should use its “little bit of muscle” to persuade Bank of Ireland (BofI) to swap its College Green headquarters with the Central Bank and give the former Irish parliament building to the State.

In a renewed call for the takeover as a cultural hub of Ireland’s first parliament, Labour TD Kevin Humphreys said it had the potential to become “one of our finest public spaces”.

Central Bank personnel are due to move to the capital’s docklands and calling for BofI to move to the Central Bank on Dame Street, Mr Humphreys said it was “pointless to use the building as a bank when it was designed as a parliament”.

While previous negotiations with BofI failed, the State had a 15 per cent investment in the financial institution. That meant “we have a little bit of muscle in pursuing this swap” the Dublin South-East TD said. “Public opinion and pressure from the State could bring around the Bank of Ireland in some manner.”

But Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Shane McEntee said that while he was convinced of the merits of the proposal, the “the thing is to convince the bank”. He said BofI “regards this building as the jewel in its crown, commercially as well as architecturally”. It was probably the bank’s busiest branch.

He said a swap implied the Central Bank would have to surrender its headquarters, involving a significant writedown of asset value and unacceptable to the Department of Finance.

Mr Humphreys said he raised the issue to raise discussion about the BofI and the space between it and Trinity College and it did not necessarily have to be a swap. He said a small fraction of the €360 million investment to link up the two Luas lines could develop the whole plaza.

Mr McEntee agreed the College Green bank building was “one of the most iconic buildings in Dublin city”, the first purpose-built parliament in Europe when completed in 1739.

It had the potential to turn that area into a great centre comparable to other city squares including the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Trafalgar Square in London, the Place de la Concorde in Paris and Plaza Santa Ana in Madrid.