Farmleigh lodge planned as residence for future taoisigh

 

The Government is refurbishing a house in the grounds of the Farmleigh estate in the Phoenix Park with a view to using it as an official Taoiseach's residence.

Office of Public Works (OPW) sources have confirmed that the refurbishment of the Steward's House on the estate, to be completed next year, is being carried out with the specific aim of providing a suitable residence for the Taoiseach.

There is political sensitivity at Government level about the project, with some concerned that it could be depicted as a lavish "perk" for the Taoiseach. A spokeswoman for the Taoiseach said Mr Ahern has no interest in using it, and will remain living in his relatively modest home off Griffith Avenue, Dublin.

"It [ the Steward's House] could be used as a Taoiseach's residence in future, but it won't be used by him [ Mr Ahern]", she said.

The four-bedroom Steward's House is described by the Office of Public Works as a "domestic-scale" building which would be highly suitable as a family home. A high specification security system is being installed for the house and grounds.

Up to now Ireland has not followed the practice common in other countries of having a State-provided residence for the prime minister of the day.

However, modern security requirements, coupled with the advantages of having a house in which the Taoiseach can work and receive visitors on official business, has led to the earmarking of this house for the use of future taoisigh.

Gardaí are increasingly uneasy at the difficulty of providing adequate security for the private residences of future taoisigh, particularly for those who live in apartments.

This issue arose when Albert Reynolds, as taoiseach, lived in a Dublin apartment.

It could also arise were Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny to become taoiseach, as he currently lives in a city centre apartment when in Dublin.

An official OPW spokesman declined to confirm or deny that the house may be used in future for this purpose. "It is envisaged that the Steward's House will be used as a stand-alone guest facility to complement the activities at the main house", he said. "Any additional use will be a matter for Government to decide upon."

The Steward's House, close to White's Road at the edge of the Phoenix Park in Castleknock, was the home of the manager of Farmleigh estate. More recently, the OPW architectural staff used it as offices.

When the refurbishment is completed the house will comprise four bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, and family rooms. The house can be accessed separately from the main Farmleigh estate.

Visiting dignitaries stay in Farmleigh House.