Saturday 1 October 2016

Minister asks gardaí to launch criminal probe into Longboat Quay fire defects

Niall O'Connor and Shane Phelan

Published 06/10/2015 | 02:30

The residents of Longboat Quay, in Dublin's docklands, are potentially facing evacuation and bills of nearly €20,000 each to fix the fire safety deficiencies in their apartments
The residents of Longboat Quay, in Dublin's docklands, are potentially facing evacuation and bills of nearly €20,000 each to fix the fire safety deficiencies in their apartments

A government minister has called for a criminal investigation to be established into the situation surrounding the Longboat Quay apartment complex in Dublin.

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Labour Party TD Kevin Humphreys has formally asked gardaí to look at investigating the circumstances surrounding the suspected fire defects.

The Irish Independent has learned that Mr Humphreys met officers from Pearse Street Garda Station on Saturday and is willing to make a formal complaint if requested to do so.

The Minister for State at the Department of Social Protection has met residents of the complex on a number of occasions in recent days and said they have been left "deeply distressed".

"People living there feel frustrated and fear that nobody will be held to account. Residents feel there will be no justice," Mr Humphreys told the Irish Independent last night.

He said he was told by gardaí that they will now carry out a "scoping exercise" to establish whether there are grounds for a criminal investigation to be formally launched.

Hefty

Environment Minister Alan Kelly is scheduled to meet the residents of the apartment complex today, as the prospect of evacuation looms.

Mr Kelly has asked his officials to develop a package for residents, who are facing hefty bills in order to resolve the fire defects.

The residents of Longboat Quay, in Dublin's docklands, are potentially facing evacuation and bills of nearly €20,000 each to fix the fire safety deficiencies in their apartments.

Meanwhile, Dublin Fire Brigade has defended its decision not to serve a fire safety notice on Longboat Quay over a year ago.

A report in May last year by then senior executive fire officer Donal Casey recommended a notice be served, after it identified a dozen issues regarding the apartment complex.

Had this been done, it would most likely have resulted in the residents facing evacuation.

However, the recommendation was not accepted by chief fire officer Pat Fleming and a fire notice was only issued last week.

Dublin Fire Brigade defended the decision, saying the serving of a fire safety notice was "a serious act which a fire authority uses with discretion".

Instead of moving forward with the notice at the time, the body sought "to evaluate any other possible issues in the development".

The statement said Mr Fleming "instigated an immediate engagement process with the relevant parties and instructed that a full and comprehensive fire risk assessment be carried out on the entire development".

Following agreement, Mr Fleming decided to defer serving the fire safety notice and residents were issued with letters informing them of this.

"Fire safety consultants were appointed and following consultation with Dublin Fire Brigade, it was agreed that fire marshals were placed on site immediately and an enhanced fire detection alarm system be installed," the statement said.

"This installation, detectors in every room linked to the entrance hallway and on to a common system, was completed within a two-month time frame and considerably reduced the risk in the building.

"Furthermore, a full schedule of works was agreed after considerable engagement.

"However, due to the lack of sufficient progress, the chief fire officer decided to issue a fire safety notice.

"Dublin Fire Brigade is currently awaiting a response from the primary stakeholders."

Irish Independent

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