Security costs at gutted ex-hospital slashed to €626k

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has confirmed it spent just over €626,000 on securing the St Kevin’s property in Cork City over the past decade.

The figure, provided yesterday by the HSE for security costs at the building which was seriously damaged by fire almost two weeks ago, appears to show a scaling back in the amount spent over the past decade compared with the previous five years.

Previously published figures, revealed to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee in 2008, showed that between 2002 and 2007, some €1,590,975 was spent on security for the former mental health facility, which ceased operating in 2002. In a statement the HSE confirmed the reduced security spend in the past decade.

“The cost to provide security at St Kevin’s Hospital and associated lands since 2007 is €626,135.59,” a spokesperson said.

“This includes, a) security personnel visits, b) window/door shuttering and maintenance of same, and c) the grounds work to cut back vegetation and undergrowth on the site and around the buildings.”

The security measures at the site between 2002 and 2007 worked out at almost €6,000 a week, whereas the average weekly spend on security since 2007 is closer to €1,400.

Despite the large sums of money spent at the site, there had been fears expressed in recent years about the danger of damage being caused to the listed property.

Following the devastating fire on July 4, the HSE said: “We are satisfied that the security in place was appropriate, and that the amount spent was reasonable.”

An exclusion zone was placed around the site and an initial assessment indicated that the building could be salvaged.

Meanwhile, the garda investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing, though no further information was available. A number of different lines of inquiry are being pursued in the investigation, including examining online content and CCTV footage of the site perimeter.

It is understood the fire was started deliberately, but so far no forensic data has been made public.

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