Developer loses bid to be taken out of Priory Hall case
Published 27/10/2011 | 05:00
BANKRUPT property developer Larry O'Mahony has lost a bid to be taken out of High Court proceedings over the fire-risk Priory Hall apartment complex.
Mr O'Mahony was adjudicated bankrupt in the UK earlier this year with debts of £197m (€226m) mostly owed to Irish Nationwide Building Society.
High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns yesterday refused to discharge Mr O'Mahony from the proceedings over the complex in Donaghmede, north Dublin.
However, the judge indicated that essential responsibility for carrying out works to address serious fire safety concerns at the complex rests with developer and former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely and Coalport Building Company Ltd, which built the complex in 2006 and whose directors are Mr McFeely and his brother Noel.
Dublin City Council earlier this month secured orders from Mr Justice Kearns against Mr O'Mahony, Mr McFeely and Coalport requiring evacuation of the complex and remedial works to be completed by the end of November.
Yesterday, the judge ruled there was an adequate basis for Mr O'Mahony being a party to the case, including his remaining registered as an owner of the Priory Hall lands and being described on a legal document in 2007 as a "lessor" of an apartment at Priory Hall.
He said owners and occupiers of lands are affected by the Fire Safety Act 1991 and he would not remove him from the case.
Gary McCarthy, for Mr O'Mahony, had argued that his client had no responsibility for Priory Hall on the grounds he was not involved in building it and had a written agreement of March 2009 with Mr McFeely to transfer his ownership of the Priory Hall lands to Mr McFeely.
Irish Nationwide, which has a charge over the lands, prevented that transfer.
While refusing to remove Mr O'Mahony, Mr Justice Kearns said he would make no executive orders against Mr O'Mahony in circumstances where Mr McFeely and Coalport had undertaken to carry out the remedial works.
He also agreed to return Mr O'Mahony's passport on his undertaking to attend court if required and discharged an earlier order freezing his assets.
Earlier, Mr McCarthy argued that his client had the "deepest sympathy" for the residents of Priory Hall but was not responsible for their plight.
Mr O'Mahony was involved in a number of business ventures with Mr McFeely from 1996 but the two men fell out in late 2007 and went their separate ways, counsel said.
They drew up an agreement in March 2009 for the division of assets, Mr O'Mahony got the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght while Mr McFeely got other properties, including Priory Hall.
The agreement also provided for each to indemnify the other concerning any debts of the properties acquired by them.
Mr O'Mahony had nothing to do with Priory Hall after 2007, counsel said.
Tomorrow, the judge will be updated on the progress of the remedial works at Priory Hall.