The partial collapse of a building which forced the closure of a busy Cork city street has sparked new fears for the safety of city centre buildings and calls for a safety audit.
The incident on Washington Street in a building which was undergoing renovations occurred just yards from where a young woman was killed in a building collapse in December 1999.
Independent Cllr Ken O’Flynn said while the exact cause of the latest collapse is still under investigation, he said it comes very soon after another partial building collapse on North Main St, and a few months after a woman suffered minor injuries when masonry fell from a building on St Patrick’s St.
He urged city officials to begin an audit of city centre buildings immediately and to take immediate action against building owners who have let their properties fall into a dangerous condition.
“An assessment of all buildings in our city centre island area is now imperative in the interest of the health and safety of our citizens,” he said.
Green Party Cllr Dan Boyle praised the emergency services for their response but he said such collapse incidents are becoming “a far too common occurrence” in this part of the city centre.
“There is a need for an urgent audit of the safety of the buildings in this area,” he said.
The alarm was raised at around 2.30am on Wednesday morning when a portion of 38 Washington St collapsed.
The building, on the northern side of the street, is next to its junction with South Main St.
Builders have been engaged in an extensive renovation of the structure for several weeks. A large scaffolding is in place outside.
Several units of Cork City Fire Brigade and gardaí rushed to the scene and sealed off the street.
There was widespread disruption to traffic and public transport today, with several bus routes diverted.
Officials from Cork City Council’s building control section visited the site later to conduct a full inspection.
They declined to comment on their findings but it is understood that the collapse incident may be linked to a construction-related issue and not directly to any pre-existing structural defects.
A spokesperson for the council said its officials have contacted the building owners and their technical advisors to address the situation as soon as possible.
“In the interest of public safety, it was necessary to close the public roadway outside the partially collapsed building in the early hours of the morning. Cork City Council is working to re-open the street as soon as possible.
“The council will continue to work with the building owners over the coming days to identify what immediate remedial works need to be undertaken at the construction site, bearing in mind commitments to public safety.”
Meanwhile, officials are still liaising with the owners of the derelict buildings on nearby North Main St where steel support structures are still propping up one of the structures since last summer’’s collapse incident.