Council argues developer McFeely knew he was in breach of orders over Priory Hall
DEVELOPER Thomas McFeely knew in advance he was in breach of court orders requiring him to carry out fire safety works on the Priory Hall apartments before a judge ordered that he be jailed for contempt last year, Dublin City Council has argued in the Supreme Court.
The council rejected Mr McFeely's lawyers' claims that he had no notice that he could face an order for his attachment and committal to prison because he (McFeely) was aware that any works he carried out would be subject to a weekly review by the court.
In effect, Conleth Bradley SC for the council, argued Mr McFeely was put on notice that he could be in breach of undertakings he gave to carry out works.
Mr Bradley was responding to questions from members of the five-judge Supreme Court on the second day of Mr McFeely's appeal against a High Court order last November imposing a three month prison sentence and €1million fine on him for contempt of court orders in relation to remedial works at Priory Hall in Donaghmede, Dublin.
Mr McFeely has claimed there was no evidence he deliberately flouted the authority of High Court president, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, who ordered his imprisonment on November 17 for contempt over breach of undertakings McFeely gave to the court a month earlier to carry out works.
Residents of the apartments have been evacuated for their own safety by order of the court until specified remedial works are completed.
The appeal hearing concluded today and the court reserved its decision.
Following the judge's order that Mr McFeely be committed to Mountjoy jail for contempt, he was taken briefly to the Bridewell Garda Station until his lawyers lodged the Supreme Court appeal which put a stay on the High Court order pending the hearing of the appeal.
Lawyers for Mr McFeely, and his Coalport company which built Priory Hall, have argued that the High Court judge's conclusion that he was guilty of breaching undertakings in gave in October to carry out certain works was not supported by any or any credible evidence.
Mr McFeely had deployed all resources at his disposal to comply with the undertakings he gave, it was claimed.
He had been ordered off the site by the court on November 4 which meant he was prevented from complying with the undertakings he gave, it was argued.
He had also not received any advance notice of an application to commit him to prison in order that he could consult his lawyers.
No weekly work targets had been set for him to meet, it was also claimed.
In his submissions on behalf of the council today, Mr Bradley said Mr McFeely had come up with a set of proposals for works to be carried out, the first phase of which was to be completed by November 28.
The council had also brought applications for variations to works being done by Mr McFeely before November 4, when the High Court judge also gave liberty to the council to have Mr McFeely committed for disobeying the undertakings he gave, counsel said. This was because the council was not satisfied with the work he was carrying out.
It also unsuccessfully applied to court for another contractor to be brought in in place of Mr McFeely to carry out the works and that Mr McFeely should then have to pay for this contractor, counsel said.
By November 4, when the High Court ordered him off the site, Mr McFeely was well aware that he had not complied with his undertakings, counsel argued.
The council had brought its own application to attach and commit Mr McFeely but this was superfluous because the High Court judge had an inherent jurisdiction to order the jailing of a person for breach of court orders, counsel said.