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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 18 September, 2019
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Israel's embassy has stalled works planned for a Dublin office block over security concerns

The embassy has been based out of the largely-empty Carrisbrook House in Ballsbridge since 1996.

Image: Google Maps

THE ISRAELI EMBASSY in Ireland has stated that a planned redevelopment of Carrisbrook House in Dublin 4 “could be a significant threat to the security and privacy” of its operation.

Israel’s Dublin-based embassy, which is currently housed on the fifth floor of Carrisbrook House, has put a block on the plans for the building after it lodged an appeal against a decision by Dublin council which gave Spectre (Carrisbrook) Ltd the green light to revamp the office block.

Previously, the IDA’s €1 million a year expenditure on lease payments on the largely-empty Carrisbrook House came under the political spotlight.

Comptroller and auditor general Seamus McCarthy told a Public Accounts Committee hearing in July 2016 that it was difficult to market the property because of security risks as the Israeli embassy was a subtenant of the property.

As result, the property was 85% vacant for a number of years. Business Minister Heather Humphreys previously told the Dáil that the IDA exited the lease in December 2015 “as it was the least costly option for the State”.

The IDA’s lease agreement was not due to expire until 2034 and it cost the IDA €9.4 million to exit the lease.

However, Minister Humphreys said while it represented a significant amount, it was “a saving to the State of an estimated €13.65 million in comparison to maintaining the lease until completion”.

af j Carrisbrook House Source: Google Maps

According to the company’s accounts, Spectre (Carrisbrook) Ltd, which was incorporated last year, is owned by Luxembourg Investment Company 112 S.á.r.l (1).

In a planning submission, Spectre (Carrisbrook) Ltd proposed external and internal alterations of the existing building. It planned to demolish some structures on the grounds in order to extend the office block.

The city council gave the plan to redevelop the building the go-ahead in spite of an objection lodged by Israel’s ambassador to Ireland, Ze’ev Boker, who noted that the embassy has been a tenant of Carrisbrook House since 1996.

He stated: “We wish to reserve our rights of quiet enjoyment of the 5th floor of the property and ensure that the embassy will be capable of its full and normal operation during the proposed works should planning permission be granted.”

Boker said that “a further concern is to ensure the security will be maintained at the property and its surrounding areas”.

He added: “We trust that our concerns regarding the likely significant disruption will be taken into account … given our unique position as the sole tenant in the property and the necessity to continue our function as an embassy.”

After the local authority’s decision to award planning permission to Spectre (Carrisbrook) Ltd, the embassy has now formally appealed the decision.

Objection

In its appeal, the embassy stated: “We ask the board to note that nothing in the appeal shall be construed as a waiver of the privileges and the immunity of the Embassy of Israel.”

The appeal claims that Dublin council failed to give due consideration to the Israeli Ambassador’s submission.

It added that the layout and design of the proposed extensions to the building could adversely impact on the privacy and security of the established embassy offices.

It also stated that the planned four-storey extension of the redevelopment “could be a significant threat to the security and privacy of the fifth floor”.

The embassy has requested that the board issue a notice for the applicant to make explicit provision for the continuation of the use of the fifth floor as an embassy and to amend the architectural design to address the embassy’s concerns.

A decision is due on the appeal later this year.

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Gordon Deegan

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