The grand design for the new €5 million Portlaoise Library
A restart is urged this year on the stalled new €5 million county library on Portlaoise Main Street but there is still no sign of most of the cash from the Government.
Laois County Council bought the old Shaws shop for almost €500,000 in 2013. Plans were drawn up to knock it and build a new library but progress stalled last May when the pricetag rose to almost €5 million. Only €1.65 million is secured in a Government grant. The council requested a grant of €3 million but it has not yet been granted.
At the January council meeting, Housing Officer Michael Rainey said the council intends to “bring it back as a priority project”.
It is listed as a “key action” in the council’s Service Delivery Plan for 2018, to “further progress development of the new County Library”.
Cllr Jerry Lodge urged the council to proceed.
“Grab hold of the library... It is an integral part of development for Portlaoise, a huge amount is being spent this year on Lyster Square and the three lanes, I want the library work done in tandem, it would be hugely positive,” he said.
Cllr Mary Sweeney works in Portlaoise library on Lyster Square. She said that it is “not fit for purpose in many ways”.
“There are health and safety issues, there is a lack of space, it is not able to accommodate what it currently does,” she said.
She noted that a site is to be bought for a new courthouse off Main Street.
“It is great news for the courthouse, and for business on Main Street, but I ask that the library be given the same sense of urgency,” Cllr Sweeney said.
Council CEO John Mulholland confirmed last summer that the build would not go ahead until a government grant of €3 million is obtained.
"The council cannot proceed unless it gets more grant assistance. It leaves too big a hole in this council,” he said.