Concerns raised over access to newly restored Leinster House
Claims made that two entrances to be used, one for elected members and one for staff
Leinster House: when it reopens on Monday, some claim only the Ceann Comhairle and visiting dignitaries will be allowed use its refurbished entrance. Photograph: Alan Betson
Authorities in the newly refurbished Leinster House may be adopting some Georgian class codes when the 18th-century mansion reopens in full next month.
The Dublin townhouse of Duke of Leinster James Fitzgerald, now home to the Dáil and Seanad, will partially reopen on Monday.
But claims have been made that access to the restored doorway on the Merrion Square side of the House will be restricted to elected members and visiting dignitaries with everyone else having to use the Kildare Street entrance where security scanners are in place.
That side is set to reopen for the new Dáil term on September 17th.
One source claimed that only the Ceann Comhairle and visiting dignitaries would be allowed to use the refurbished entrance in future.
Another said access would be restricted to the Ceann Comhairle, visiting VIPs and members, ie, TDs and Senators, while all staff and other users would have to use the Kildare Street entrance where there is security scanning.
Responding to queries, the Oireachtas press office merely said “visitors to Leinster House will continue to access the Houses of the Oireachtas via the Kildare Street entrance”.
Dáil and Seanad
The front entrance of the home of the Dáil and Seanad, and a number of rooms on the Kildare Street side of the building are part of the first phase of reopening following extensive refurbishment. The elaborate scaffolding covering virtually the entire house is gone.
A temporary corridor connecting buildings and a hut inquiries office have also been removed as the original splendour of the townhouse emerges.
The restored Seanad, originally a ballroom, will return to normal use after the summer recess while the temporary chamber used during the restoration will be returned to the National Museum.
During the restoration work, along with structural faults and major wiring issues, builders uncovered some historical artefacts, among them 19th-century children’s toys including a wooden whistle, a spinning top, a solid wooden ball and a toy soldier in a crimson uniform.
The Oireachtas intends to put them on display, most likely in the early autumn.
The public will be able to give its verdict on the works when the house will be open for Culture Night on September 20th with access to the restored areas including the Seanad chamber, reading room, main lobby and the corridor towards the Dáil chamber.
The Oireachtas points out that “every aspect of the house from the basement to the attic and roof has been carefully restored and conserved; allowing the building to breath and breathing new life back into the building”.