Paris disaster ‘wake-up call’ for fate of Irish churches

Paris disaster ‘wake-up call’ for fate of Irish churches Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin

Calls have been made for religious buildings across Ireland to be fire-proofed, amid fears that dilapidated churches could be easily prone to disaster.

Speaking in the aftermath of the huge fire which ravaged Notre-Dame’s Cathedral earlier this month, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said that he “worries” that churches in Ireland may meet a similar fate.

“We have many old churches here – there’s a lot of wood in our churches. There are serious problems of fire risk. We constantly have the firefighters come and look at our churches,” he said on RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke last week, adding that the maintenance of these buildings is a “real challenge”.

Following the fire, Labour leader Brendan Howlin also called for an audit of Irish buildings in the Dáil and urged Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to ensure measures are taken to prevent incendiary disaster.


“In the light of the tragedy,” the Wexford TD asked, “are there plans for an audit of our built heritage, including places such as Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, St Patrick’s Cathedral and similar structures across the country, to ensure they are equipped with the latest in fire protection systems?

“Are there detailed plans to respond to fires in such buildings?”

Mr Howlin added that the burning collapse of the French cathedral should be a “wake-up call” to government ministers about the future possibility of a similar event in Ireland.