The Peter McVerry Trust, which aims at reducing homelessness, drug misuse and social disadvantage, intends to turn one of Dublin’s oldest buildings, Number 21 Aungier Street, into a shelter for the homeless. The building dates back to 1661 and is located near Dublin Castle. In the past, Aungier Street was designed as a residential street for the rich, thus, it was there where the grandest houses of pre-Georgian Dublin could be found which later contributed to the design of City Mansion style houses. These buildings are today national monuments which are to be protected.
The Dublin Civic Trust that protects the city’s architectural heritage is strongly opposed to the idea of accommodating homeless adults in 21 Aungier Street. It argues that this would be harmful to the building’s historic fabric and that it would be unacceptable to use a culturally “ significant building” for such a purpose. It is noteworthy that 21 Aungier Street has been used to accommodate asylum seekers before, however, according to Civic trust director Geraldine Walsh, this had been an unauthorised use and the adjustments that will have to be made for accommodating the homeless will damage the building over the long-term.
The McVerry Trust and the Dublin City Council said that they understood the concerns of the Civic Trust but that they would do everything to ensure the preservation of the architectural elements of the building and its historic value.