Cork fire: Questions still remain over Vernon Mount fire

The embers of Tuesday’s fire at St Kevin’s have barely died away, but questions are still being asked in relation to another famous Cork building that went up in flames a year ago.

The 18th-century Vernon Mount in Douglas on the southside of Cork city was extensively damaged in a fire last July.

A meeting of Cork County Council scheduled for next week includes a motion from Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton about Vernon Mount which was lodged before this week’s fire at St Kevin’s.

Ms D’Alton wants Cork County Council to take Vernon Mount into public ownership. Her motion claims that the owners had failed to fully uphold their responsibility under Section 58 of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act 2000 and adds: “The cost of the works to the roof of Vernon Mount carried out by Cork County Council in 2012 and in 2014 was to be reimbursed by the owners to Cork County Council in the event of damage befalling the house.”

Developers led by San Diego-based IT expert Jonathon Moss bought the property in 1997 while work repairs on the roof referenced by Ms D’Alton were carried out by the local authority, partly funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Yesterday Cork County Council said it was unable to provide an update regarding the Vernon Mount site. However, Ms D’Alton said the costs of the works undertaken by the local authority were understood to be in the region of €165,000 and should be recouped. She said such buildings were “a legacy and part of our history”.

Following the fire, the owners of Vernon Mount said they were devastated at the damage caused to the building. Quantity surveyor Olaf Maxwell said he was satisfied that works he arranged at the listed Georgian villa had “fully protected” it against random vandalism.

It is understood that gardaí are still investigating the Vernon Mount fire but are satisfied that it was started deliberately.

As for another building in Cork badly hit by fire, the Good Shepherd convent which was damaged in 2012, Cork City Council said it was currently the subject of a planning application lodged by Moneda Developments Ltd.

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