Seanad relocation to Natural History Museum costs extra €500,000

Upper House has been forced to find a new home while Leinster House undergoes repairs

The Natural History Museum: sources said the payment is necessary to ensure the Seanad is located near Leinster House, which will allow senators and staff to stay in their existing offices. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

The Natural History Museum: sources said the payment is necessary to ensure the Seanad is located near Leinster House, which will allow senators and staff to stay in their existing offices. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

The Houses of the Oireachtas is to pay its next door neighbour, the Natural History Museum, €500,000 more than expected to house the Seanad while Leinster House is renovated.

The Upper House has been forced to find a new location while Leinster House undergoes repairs in the years ahead – much of it will focus on the Seanad chamber and its ante-rooms.

The move to the Natural History Museum, next door on Kildare Street, had been mooted for some time but the outline of a final deal was only reached last week.

It is understood that the museum held out for extra money to agree to temporarily house the Seanad in its Ceramics Room, and the Leinster House authorities last week agreed to pay an extra €500,000 from Oireachtas funds.

Upgrade museum

The lift, necessary for the Seanad, will also be of long term use to the museum.

Sean Canney, the Junior Minister with responsibility for the Office of Public works, said the refurbishments will be carried out for the best price that was available to the OPW. The further cost, however, will be borne by the Oireachtas and will be used by the museum to upgrade its own facilities.

Sources said the payment is necessary to ensure the Seanad is located near Leinster House, which will allow senators and staff to stay in their existing offices and avoid further relocation costs.

Feeling neglected

It is understood the outline of a final deal will be discussed by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, the body which runs Leinster House, at a meeting this week.

“Some of it is because of a feeling that the museum and the arts community have been neglected in recent years,” said a well-placed source.

Other locations within the Leinster House complex, such as one of the rooms used for Oireachtas committees, were considered for the Seanad but were deemed unsuitable.

The work on the Seanad chamber and its adjoining rooms is expected to begin in the spring and will last for two years.