The sight of a crane towering over a large scale construction site teeming with workers is a rare spectacle to behold these days but Tipperary Town has one such project - the €20m government offices complex on Rosanna Road that is on track to be finished well ahead of schedule next year.
The building of the new Tipperary Town Council Civic Offices and beside them the Department of Justice decentralised offices to house the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) is providing a very welcome boost to the depressed local economy with the main contractor Galway based JLS engaging many local sub-contractors on the project.
When construction work is completed next year, the state-of-the-art government buildings will greatly improve public access to local government services for the people of Tipperary and its hinterland and bring much needed extra jobs to the town when 188 decentralised public servants move into the INIS offices.
Co. Council Chairman Michael Fitzgerald said this project was an example of some of the very positive developments happening in this county at the moment that he wishes to highlight during his term.
“We are all going to be very proud when the new Tipperary Civic Offices are up and running, It will have facilities for the public that they deserve and bring local government services closer to the people,” he told The Nationalist.
The eight acres site on which the government buildings are being built was acquired by the Office of Public Works from the Sisters of Mercy. Construction work on the project began in February. As part of the contract, JSL have committed to finishing the government buildings by July next year but according to Tipperary Town Clerk Paul Murray they are ahead of schedule and it’s understood the work will be finished substantially before that deadline.
The new civic offices will be very much welcomed by both the customers and staff of Tipperary Town Council and the Co. Council’s Tipperary Electoral Area offices.
Dan Breen House has served as the Town Council’s headquarters and local Co. Council offices since the 1960s but is no longer big enough for both staff or the public visiting it to pay service charges, parking fines and make enquiries about housing, water, planning and other local authority services.
The 1971 sq. m three-storey new civic offices will accommodate about 40 Town Council and Co. Council staff.
Town Clerk Paul Murray said the building will boast a new purpose built council chamber and each council service will have its own public area for customers, more parking spaces and much needed extra office space and facilities for staff as well as better IT facilities. The building will also be much more accessible for people with disabilities, the elderly and people visiting with children in buggies.
Tipperary Town Manager Clare Curley said the new civic building will showcase the town in the best possible light particularly on occasions when the Town Council is hosting functions such as civic receptions for visiting national and international dignitaries such as during the Tipperary Peace Awards.
She pointed out that the new civic offices are being built to be as energy efficient as possible. The Council consulted with the Tipperary Energy Agency about how to achieve this at the design stage.
The completion of the Department of Justice’s INIS offices beside the Civic Offices building will bring to fruition nearly a decade of work by local people and politicians to secure a decentralised office for the town.
Tipperary is, in fact, one of the few towns across the country to benefit from the decentralisation programme announced by the former Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy in 2004.
Some of the 188 Department of Justice civil servants who will be based in the building have already been decentralised to Tipperary. The so-called advance team have been based in rented offices at the technology park opposite the government buildings site on Rosanna Road and in Rossmore for a number of years.
Mayor of Tipperary Town Jacqui Finnan said the government buildings development was a prime example of a community pulling together for the greater good.
She paid tribute to the work of the nine-member decentralisation committee comprising public representatives and community representatives that was set up to campaign to secure a decentralised government office to the town.
She recalled that the committee published a 16-page brochure promoting Tipperary as an ideal location for decentralisation and sent it to 82 Oireachtas members.
The committee was chaired by her father, former Tipperary Town and Co. Councillor Christy Kinahan and also included Tim Ryan, Ken Kingston, Paul O’Callaghan, Paul Grisewood, former Cllr Gerry Cronin, Cllr Billy Bourke, Cllr Brian Rafferty, Cllr Ann Tuohy-Halligan and RAPID area co-ordinator Mark Ryan.
“They were undaunted by the cynics and sceptics who thought it would never be achieved. It was achieved because they did all the homework and never gave up,” she said.