Mary Harney: Hawkins House

A MAJOR renovation of offices for health minister Mary Harney cost at least €29,000, the Office of Public Works has said.

Carpets, drapes, new lighting and fresh paint ended up costing the taxpayer a total of €28,858, according to figures obtained by the Sunday Tribune.

Harney's offices at Hawkins House were given a complete makeover in 2007, as part of major works at the notoriously unsightly building close to Dublin's Liffey.

The Office of Public Works said it had not been possible to say exactly how much the refurbishment of Harney's office cost.

However, it was able to determine direct costs of €28,858 according to records from the project sought under the Freedom of Information Act.

A statement from the OPW said: "Works were carried out by the Office of Public Works to the minister's office as part of a major refurbishment project for Floors 3 to 11, Hawkins House, that was completed in 2007.

Dermot O'Brien of the Property Maintenance Section said: "From an examination of the overall project sums, the amount directly attributable to the minister's office was identified as €23,850 plus VAT.

"The works included the installation of a new suspended ceiling, partitioning, carpets, drapes, new lighting and redecoration.

"Since the costs associated with these works were incorporated in the overall invoices received from the contractor for the entire project, they would not have been individually itemised.

"Some replacement furniture was provided from existing stock in the Office of Public Works Furniture Stores. An adjoining office and waiting area were also refurbished as part of the overall project for the building."

Sources in the Department of Health claimed that the true costs of the project had been significantly higher but were being hidden in the overall costs.

One civil servant said: "It was a significant piece of work with a significant price tag. There were major works carried out to both her office and adjoining rooms."

The refurbishment project is just one of a number of costly renovations carried out to the offices of political leaders in recent years.

A makeover for the officeof the former ceann comhaile John O'Donoghue cost more than €100,000 last year, according to OPW figures.

The reconstruction of toilet facilities for O'Donoghue cost €58,712 with a further €40,000 spent on carpets, curtains and an office