By Aisling Kett
The Old Bar has been closed indefinitely due to serious health and safety concerns and cannot be used under any circumstances.
A total of 23 problems forced its closure, including a lock and chain around the exit door beside the ladies toilets and a lack of smoke detectors.
In recent times the ladies toilets in the Old Bar have been used during the popular Toxic Tuesday night in the NuBar.
The lock and chain around the exit door would be removed during events but many societies would use the bar for activities such as rehearsals and other events during the day. It has been closed since November 21.
Some of the health and safety issues highlighted include a lack of fire extinguishers across the front area of the space, installing a fire siren/strobe in the patio area and fitting smoke detectors in the escape route behind the bar.
It was announced at the Class Representative Council meeting last week.
One class rep, International Relations student, Declan McCool, asked SU President, Ed Leamy to contact Campus Properties to ensure that ”the safety of students is not hindered by having a section of the Hub without fire alarms. If one section has no fire alarms the rest of the student centre is in jeopardy and student safety is compromised.”
Campus Properties own the bar and made the decision to close it after concerns about health and safety were raised by the Estates Office. The Estates Office is in charge of its maintenance.
When the Students’ Union events manager Shea McNelis was contacted, he emphasised that though events held there are booked through the Student’s Union, only Campus Properties could decide to close the venue. The SU became aware of the situation after the manager of Campus Properties said there was a report being drafted on health and safety issues in the bar.
After receiving news of the report on Friday November 18, the venue was no longer used for events.
This included not opening the toilets for the subsequent Toxic Tuesday. The SU received the report on Wednesday November 23. It was read out by Ed Leamy at the Class Representative Council meeting that evening.
The report was drafted after a survey of the area was carried out by a fire officer. The survey included the examination of emergency lighting and access/exit openings.
The Old Bar ceased operating as a bar several years ago after the NuBar opened in the Hub. It was later decided that the space could be put to another use.
As Damien West, the Hub Manager, explains “The requirement of space for students activities, particularly over the last year, has increased and with this in mind it was decided to allow the Old Bar be used by Clubs and Societies for certain activities.”
Clubs and societies are now left without a space to rehearse and hold events. McNelis said that this will present a problem as no replacement space is available and The Venue in the Hub is booked up in advance. It is up to the university to provide a replacement space.
The Old Bar, or part of it, will only be reopened after Campus Properties discuss the matter with theEstates Office and Health & Safety Office. Plans have been mentioned to build another storey on top of the existing building. If built this could become a shopping centre.
The director of the Estates Office was unable to return calls when contacted about the issue.