The Deterioration of Public Buildings in Ireland

4 years ago, a Green party representative declared a "victory" over the defeat of some rather poor plans for the public baths in Dun Laoghaire. The sad reality is that while the very bad plans for the baths were shot down, the area has been let deteriorate into such an appalling state that the so-called victory now seems very hollow indeed. The shocking condition of the baths can be see on the Abandoned Ireland website here. To suggest that this was a victory now seems very hollow indeed considering the appalling state that the buildings have deteriorated into.

I often enjoyed the baths as a kid in the late 1980s and was truly shocked at how bad the conditions have become. The proliferation of hypodermic needs would suggest to me that its only a matter of time before the baths suffer the same ignomious fate as the ill-fated West Pier in Brighton, which was finally destroyed in a fire after a series of structural collapses some years ago, the result of 2 decades of serial neglect and a failure to agree on a way forward to restore this once-beautiful landmark. The problem for the West Pier was that the gradual delapidation that occured as a result of years of debate and blocking of plans to repair it resulted in leaving it vulnerable not only to storm damage which resulted in a series of collapses, but to outright vandalism which resulted in the intact buildings being razed in 2003. It is inevitable in underage-drinking-happy Ireland that the baths are likely to suffer a similar fate should something not be undertaken to preserve them even in their existing designs.

One of the sadder elements of Ireland's so-called development in the dubious Tiger years was the deterioration of public swimming facilities. Even the popular 40 Foot is apparently in poor conditions and many public facilities have closed and other facilities such as the Gus Healy pool in Douglas, Cork, are being allowed to deteriorate. In the case of the Douglas facility it is being "operated" at present by Leisureworld who are not-for-profit but also operating much newer competing facilities in Bishopstown and Churchfield. Surely a group which has the luxury of newer facilties is hardly going to have any incentive to improve on an older and less attractive facility?

One of the real issues faced now in Ireland, where extensive overdevelopment, much of it of extremely dubious value and build quality, has already blighted much of the environment, is to what extent "developers" already taking advantage of the current recession to bankrupt themselves conveniently just in time to hide away their previous profits all over the world in dodgy secretive banking systems before they get exposed. Its likely that many of the worst eyesores will practically collapse before they are forced to maintain them. The absence of proper management companies is likely to destroy any hope of some apartment complexes being properly maintained, never mind the fact that so many of them are already in poor conditions due to total neglect of rented properties.


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