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Social Welfare offices in Letterkenny closed again over asbestos fears

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BY C.J.MCGINLEY

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THE Department of Social Protection offices at High Road, Letterkenny have been closed again this morning, for the second time in a fortnight, over fears of asbestos in the building.

Staff have been sent home this morning by management to allow for a full “risk assessment” to be done on the building where renovation works are being carried out.

The offices are currently closed to the public and it is not yet clear what arrangements are in place to allow for unemployed people to “sign on” tomorrow (Wednesday).

Workers met with management this morning at a car park to the rear of the building. They had been advised by their trade union this morning to “present” for work, but not enter the building.

Worried staff want to be moved temporarily to other department offices at OIiver Plunkett Road until they are satisified it is safe to work in the building.

The Department says it views the health and safety of its staff and customers very seriously.

The workers are due to be moved to work from the Child Benefit Offices at OIiver Plunkett Road from tomorrow.

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It is not yet clear how long it will be before they can return to the High Road offices.

A fortnight ago the offices closed for a short time after staff expressed concerns about asbestos being exposed during renovation works.

However, the OPW, said the levels were “low risk” asbestos material was discovered and would be removed.

Workers claim this has not been done properly and independent tests carried out still show “positive” levels of asbestos. There are up to 30 workers in the building.

Local councillor Gerry McMonagle, has been contacted by workers about their safety concerns at the workplace. He has accussed the Office of Public Works of attempting to “cover-up” the asbestos fears in the building.

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