New offices could see ‘top-secret papers’ says Chief State Solicitor

Maria Browne says proposed nearby block is too tall and could jeopardise State privacy

The chief state solicitor has raised concerns that top-secret papers in her office could be compromised if a new seven-storey office block proceeds close to her office in Dublin city centre.

JJ Rhatigan firm, Luxor Investments Ltd has lodged plans for the new office block on Ship Street Great and Chancery Lane near South Great George's Street in Dublin.

The office block at 111ft is higher than an accommodation block previously granted planning for the same site which lies in close proximity to the Rhatigan-owned Radisson Blu hotel at Golden Lane.

In an objection to the plan, Chief State Solicitor, Maria Browne has told Dublin City Council the revised height and overlook of the office of the Chief State Solicitor "is a marked increased on current planning permission in place".

Ms Browne states: “We are concerned that this will impact on the lighting, overlook and privacy of the staff in the office. This office has particular security requirements given the sensitive nature of the work carried out for and on behalf of Government. The nature of the documentation handled and processed in this office is of national importance and can extend to top-secret papers, which if compromised from a privacy/security aspect could be problematic.”

The Chester Beatty Library has also objected to the plan. The library's head of operations and administration, Derval O'Carroll, told the council the library holds in its care an extremely important and valuable, world-renowned collection of East Asian, Islamic and Western manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and decorative arts.

It has “grave concerns relating to the potential increased security risk to our collections” as a result of the planned new Luxor Investments plan, she said.

The height of the new building will allow those on the upper floors “to view the locations of, or actively monitor, a number of our electronic and physical security measures”, she added.

“Persons on those floors would potentially have direct line of sight into a highly secure area where collection materials are occasionally stored.”

Kevin Duff of the An Taisce Dublin City Association has also told the Council that the proposed change of use from residential to office "is inappropriate at a time of acute housing crisis" and "is contrary to the objectives for the repopulation of former residential areas of the inner city".

In response to the concerns expressed, the council has told the developers to reduce the height and scale of the proposed development.

Seeking additional information, the council said it had serious reservations in relation to both the height and scale of the proposal.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times