Gardaí may have to quit HQ in row over lease

Gardaí may have to move out of their central Dublin headquarters building if agreement cannot be reached over lease arrangements with a private company which bought the property, the Commercial Court has heard.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has leased four office blocks at the Harcourt Square site since 1980s, providing office space for the force.

It houses Garda Command and Control, is one of the force’s most important operational centres and is central to the State’s security and policing operations at national and regional level, according to the OPW. It also houses CAB and the emergency response unit, among other units.

By 1984, the lease covered all four blocks occupying a 1.9 acre site, around a third of which is occupied by the office blocks while the remainder includes access roads, car parking, security, and services accommodation.

It was bought in March 2015 by property development company Hibernia Reit which wants to redevelop it to intensify its use with two planning permissions already obtained to more than double existing office space to 276,000 sq ft.

Hibernia Reit was refused permission yesterday to have a dispute over whether a 1988 lease agreement with the OPW still applies, and over access to common areas in the property, admitted to the Commercial Court.

The application was opposed by Denis McDonald, counsel for the OPW, who said the delay by Hibernia Reit in bringing the proceedings meant it was not an urgent matter.

Mr McDonald also said this would be a complex hearing which will have to deal with significant issues in relation to compensation for disturbance and as to when the gardaí would have to vacate. A significant period of time would be required to find an alternative premises if it came to it, he said.

Paul Gallagher, for Hibernian Reit, said there had been no delay and proceedings had not been brought while negotiations had been continuing between the parties.

There was also a separate case to be heard yet in the Circuit Court in relation to the OPW’s application for a court-ordered lease renewal on three of the four blocks for which tenancy agreements have already ended by the passage of time, he said.

Mr Gallagher said any further delay “will cost my client a very substantial amount of money”.

The case will now go through the normal High Court list.


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