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40 Herbert Park, Dublin, before its demolition.
The O'Rahilly

Construction firm ordered to pay €3,000 over ‘technical breach’ in O'Rahilly house demolition

The building was once home to 1916 Rising leader Michael Joseph O’Rahilly.

CONSTRUCTION FIRM PEMBROKE Place Developments Ltd has been ordered to give €3,000 to charity to avoid a court conviction for “a technical breach” during the demolition of the former home of 1916 Rising leader Michael Joseph O’Rahilly.

Dublin City Council (DCC) initiated prosecution in Dublin District Court over the levelling of 40 Herbert Park, once home to “The O’Rahilly”, the only leader killed in the fighting.

Builders bulldozed the house in September 2020 to use the site for a 12-storey apartment and hotel development.

Derryroe Ltd, operated by the McSharry and Kennedy families, who have the Herbert Park Hotel, was granted permission by An Bord Pleanala for the demolition and redevelopment scheme.

However, the council’s prosecution of them and co-defendants Pembroke Place Developments Ltd at Dublin District Court was for the “unauthorised demolition” of the O’Rahilly House, contrary to section 151 of the Planning and Development Act.

Pembroke Place Developments Ltd pleaded guilty yesterday/today (Tue), and DCC then withdrew all charges against the co-defendants.

The construction firm admitted there had been non-compliance with 15 agreed special conditions of planning permission before the commencement of demolition work on 29 September, 2020.

Work on the site ceased pending the outcomes of related High Court and Supreme Court challenges to the development and the conclusion of the District Court prosecution.

Solicitor Brendan Slattery, defending, asked Judge Halpin to note that Pembroke Place Developments Ltd had agreed on pre-commencement conditions with the local authority, but the agreement had not been “formally reached” by the time work started. The court heard the building firm notified the council two weeks in advance.

Demolition started on 29 September but halted once the local authority’s planning enforcement officer inspected the site and demanded work cease immediately.

Slattery said the firm had no prior convictions, and if the work were commencing now, there would be no contravention.

He asked the judge to note the company had a track record of compliance with the council.

The council’s solicitor Michael Quinlan agreed that, at the time, it was an offence and a “technical breach”.

Judge Anthony Halpin said Pembroke Place Developments Ltd was a reputable company, and he would be prepared to apply the Probation of Offenders Act, sparing it a recorded conviction.

However, he said the firm must give €3000 to the Little Flower Penny Dinners charity for underprivileged people in Dublin city centre’s Liberties area.

Residents opposed to the development had claimed the site was significant in Irish history. Built after the 1907 Exhibition, it featured in forming the Irish Volunteers and planning the 1916 Easter Rising.