Politicians asked Leinster House authorities to turn on heating in ‘freezing’ offices

Queries from TDs and other Oireachtas workers prompted the management to outline how the heat would remain off until at least the start of October

Politicians asked Leinster House authorities to turn on the heat in “absolutely freezing” and “extremely cold” offices as the weather turned chilly in the autumn. The queries from TDs and other Oireachtas workers prompted the management to outline how the heat would remain off until at least the start of October. This was so that the Oireachtas would show “leadership” on climate action and the national effort to reduce energy consumption.

In September the Government approved a plan to cut energy use across the public sector amid the ongoing energy crisis. Measures brought to Cabinet by Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan included public sector bodies being required to set temperatures to a guideline 19 degrees where appropriate.

Correspondence released by the Oireachtas under the Freedom of Information Act shows requests for the heat to be switched on in a week when Arctic air swept across Europe later that month. Most of the emails came on September 27th and 28th when temperatures outside in Dublin ranged from around 7 to 14 degrees.

On September 15th facilities manager Siobhán Malone replied to a request from an Oireachtas staff member looking to have the heat turned on saying that this normally does not happen in September “in the best of times”.


She added: “In light of the current energy crisis it is not possible for us to switch the heating on early.”

On September 27th, Fine Gael TD Michael Ring wrote to say: “The office is extremely cold.” He asked that either a stand-alone heater be provided for his office or for the heating to be turned on.

That night Sinn Féin TD Réada Cronin asked when the heating will be coming on in the LH2000 office block. She wrote: “It’s absolutely freezing here the last week or so but the winter has definitely started today. Even the 19 degrees Minister Eamon Ryan is threatening would be lovely tonight.”

The following day a query was sent about the temperature in the Leinster House self-service members’ restaurant and private dining room. The Oireachtas staff member asked if the heating is broken or when it could be put back on, and added that there was an elderly group booked in and “I understood it is very cold”.

A Fine Gael administrator also asked when the heat would be turned on as offices in one block of the complex were “extremely cold”.

A Fianna Fáil staff member said she had queries from members and political staff about the heating being off in LH2000. She asked if it was part of energy conservation measures and what the rules were about when the heat would be switched on so she could relay the information.

Also on September 28th, staff from the offices of People Before Profit TDs Gino Kenny and Richard Boyd Barrett sent in queries about the heating situation.

A staff member in Green TD Patrick Costello’s office requested an electric heater and a worker in party colleague Marc Ó Cathasaigh’s office asked if there was an issue with the heating.They added: “A few offices don’t seem to have working heating. Happy of course to reduce down the thermostats.”

A staff member in Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín’s office said the radiator there was not working and asked if it could be fixed.

That afternoon the facilities manager unit (FMU) wrote to “all members of the parliamentary community” to say it had several inquiries about the heating in the complex.

The email said: “The heating is traditionally turned on on October 1st each year. In view of the Government’s climate action targets, the energy crisis and the national effort to reduce energy consumption, and also to offset increases in energy costs, the heat will not be turned on until next Monday at the earliest.

“It is important that the Oireachtas shows leadership in this relation to the Government’s climate action targets and the national effort to reduce consumption,” the email added.

That evening Fine Gael TD John Paul Phelan wrote back saying: “I fully support the change. May I also suggest that the heat isn’t set to as high a temperature as other years when it does come on if that’s possible. I’m in the five-storey which isn’t a warm building but yet I always find the heat too high. Just a suggestion.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times