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Council seeks €30 million in Government funding for City Library at Parnell Square

An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for the City Library last May.

Proposed exterior of the new Dublin City Library.
Proposed exterior of the new Dublin City Library.
Image: RollingNews.ie

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL is seeking €30 million in Central Government funding for the delayed Parnell Square Cultural Quarter and City Library.

The Quarter – including a new City Library – was first announced in 2016 and heralded plans for a transformation of Parnell Square West in Dublin. 

After costs soared from €60 to €130 million – and a philanthropic drive by real estate firm Kennedy Wilson failed – the Council opted to proceed with the project itself on a phased basis. 

The Council has since written to the Department of Finance and met with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to discuss Exchequer Grant Aid being provided towards the project.  

The Council is also exploring if funding streams are available under Capital Support Schemes from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Last July, Council Chief Executive Owen Keegan wrote to Councillors regarding a “most disappointing and unwelcome development”.

The Parnell Foundation set up to raise philanthropic funding could not guarantee the money needed to fund the project, Keegan said. 

Dublin City Council should “assume responsibility for the development of the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter” and start building the library, Keegan said, which is projected to cost €80 million.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information show that Kennedy Wilson struggled to appoint a fundraiser for the philanthropic drive. 

The City Library Fundraiser – who was hired in April 2019 – later advised the council and the Parnell Square Foundation that it was likely to take over three years to raise the money needed for the City Library.

An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for the City Library last May. 

According to a spokesperson for Dublin City Council, an assessment to see if the project can be delivered on a “phased basis” has been completed.

Phase One, it said, involves completing refurbishment works to No 27 Parnell Square so that the City Library element of the Cultural Quarter can be built. 

Phase Two involves the refurbishment of remaining Georgian buildings on Parnell Square West and public realm improvements. 

Independent Councillor Vincent Jackson said that the required Central Government contribution towards the City Library is estimated to be in the region of €30 million, leaving the remainder – €50 million – to be sourced elsewhere.  

Jackson said he favours pursuing the City Library project despite associated risks.

“At least if you go into a downturn and you’ve good infrastructure, like public transport or physical infrastructure like a library, you have legacy projects for the city for future generations.”

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