Written answers

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Departmental Properties

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)
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39. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps she has taken to improve ventilation in the office buildings of her Department; if air cleaning and or purification systems have been installed in 2021; and if not, the plans to install same in 2022. [59729/21]

Photo of Catherine MartinCatherine Martin (Dublin Rathdown, Green Party)
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As the Deputy will be aware the provision of office accommodation for my Department falls within the remit of the Office of Public Works.   My Department continues to follow public health advice and liaise with the OPW in relation to all relevant issues including ventilation.  The Deputy will also appreciate that following the recent Government decision my Department currently requires staff to work from home other than where office attendance is deemed necessary.

The most recent Work Safely Protocol COVID-19 National Protocol for Employers and Worker published on 18 November states that:  "Reoccupying workplaces should not, in most cases, require new ventilation systems but improvements to ventilation will help increase the quantity of clean air and reduce the risk of exposure to airborne concentrations of the virus."

Those buildings currently occupied by my Department are subject to natural ventilation and do not employ mechanical ventilation systems.  As part of its COVID-19 Response my Department has adopted a policy of controlling staff attendance at offices in line with social distancing requirements and requiring staff to open windows and doors to ensure adequate ventilation.   My Department has no plans to install any additional air cleaning or purification systems in its offices other than as set out below.  

The Deputy may also wish to note that air conditioning units with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters are used in the National Archives.   These were installed prior to the onset of COVID-19 to facilitate the conservation of documents which forms a core part of the work of the National Archives.   I am advised that CO2 monitors have been installed in public and shared areas of the National Archives offices in Bishop Street during the year.


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