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The Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Alamy Stock Photo
Office of Public Works

Magazine Fort in Phoenix Park poses 'serious health and safety risk' to public, documents show

Internal records detail how the site has been in a state of “ongoing disrepair” and dogged by issues with intruders, security and vandalism.

AN HISTORIC FORT in the Phoenix Park poses a serious health and safety risk to the public with some of its walls in danger of collapse.

The Office of Public Works has submitted ambitious plans for the restoration of the 18th-century Magazine Fort in Dublin with proposals to turn it into a tourist attraction.

Internal records detail how the historic site has been in a state of “ongoing disrepair” and dogged by issues with intruders, security, and vandalism.

The rampart walls of the fort are in such poor condition that they now “pose a serious health and safety risk”, according to a business case for the project.

The Magazine Fort was handed over to the OPW by the Department of Defence in the 1980’s but no major works have taken place since.

The business case said minor repair works had taken place including the installation of safety barriers to allow public access, but that this had ceased at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It said: “The conservation aim of the proposed works is to try to arrest further deterioration to the Rampart Walls, Magazine Buildings and ‘Bakery’ building through structural stabilisation and conservation repair works to make the buildings weathertight.”

In the first phase, the OPW said they would carry out work to stabilise and conserve the walls to “ensure preservation and the health and safety of the public in the surrounding areas of the park”.

The business case added: “A significant failure of any section of the rampart walls would be a serious health and safety issue with potential life limiting impacts to the public and which would cause significant reputational damage.”

Separately, works to a Magazine Building – specially designed to store gunpowder to avoid the risk of it igniting – were needed because of its “current state of decay and future risk”.

The business case said: “[Its current condition] is a result of continuous water ingress through open roof areas where lead flashings … were stolen from the buildings in the past.”

It added that the magazine’s 18th century timber floor, considered of “high historic significance” was “irreplaceable” and was at serious risk.

The OPW said security had the site had improved since 2016 when CCTV was installed but that restoration and regular use of the fort would be the best solution for its future survival.

The report said the works were so urgently needed that the refurbishment needed to be carried out all in one go because of the site’s perilous condition.

It said further delays would lead to further deterioration of the buildings at the fort, which could lead to potentially “higher costs of repair” in the future.

Under ambitious plans submitted by the OPW, the fort will eventually be opened as an interactive visitor experience to bring its history to life.

The ramparts will be conserved and refurbished, allowing visitors to walk around them offering sweeping views over the River Liffey and Dublin city centre.

Construction of the Magazine Fort began around 1736 with its location chosen because of its commanding position overlooking the capital.

It was especially designed for the safe storage of large quantities of gunpowder and was managed by military authorities right up to 1988, when it was handed over to the OPW.

A spokeswoman for the OPW said: “Given the age and condition of the buildings and rampart walls which have received interventions over the centuries, the OPW commissioned a detailed condition survey of the Fort and have established a team of experts to progress the restoration and conservation of this unique fortification in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

“The stabilisation of the rampart walls and repairs to some of the buildings at the Magazine Fort have been prioritised for conservation with tender documents being finalised in the coming weeks. It is hoped that this tender will issue after Easter with works commencing later this year.”

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