A spring clean and repainting of the Papal Cross in Dublin's Phoenix Park cost more than €15,000, records from the Office of Public Works show.
The clean-up attracted considerable attention after power-washing took place at the height of the drought that hit the State in July.
Internal emails show that the OPW was not aware water was going to be used in getting the cross ready for this week's papal visit. However, they were informed that the painting – the first for four years – could not have gone ahead unless the cross was spotlessly clean.
The contractor was asked for confirmation that the water for cleaning had not been taken from a source in Dublin. They replied to say the water “was drawn from an off-site source that is not affected by the water hose ban”.
An invoice shows the repainting cost a total of €15,222.50 excluding VAT, and that anti-graffiti paint, which makes it easier to remove scribbles, was used.
The repainting was part of almost €1 million that the OPW expected to spend on renovations in the Phoenix Park, including redecoration of gates and repairs to steps at the cross.
A stage and altar has since been built around the cross in preparation for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families, which more than 500,000 people, including Pope Francis, are expected to attend.