Tuesday 27 June 2017

Priory Hall: Sinn Fein distances itself from builder Tom McFeely

Taoiseach says rogue developer is 'acquaintance' of Adams

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

SINN Fein vice-president Mary-Lou McDonald last night distanced herself from the property developer who built an apartment block in Dublin that had to be evacuated for safety concerns.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also accused Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams of being an acquaintance of the millionaire developer behind the "fire-trap" Priory Hall apartment complex.

Former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely, the builder of the complex, attended a political event held by Ms McDonald in recent years. But the Sinn Fein TD said she didn't know Mr McFeely and hadn't invited him to the function.

And yesterday Mr Adams reacted angrily when Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the "fire-trap" Priory Hall complex in Donaghmede was built by "an acquaintance" of Mr Adams.

"You stand for jobs or so you say. There are 300 people from the Priory apartments built by an acquaintance of yours who are staying in a hotel," he said.

"There are people having to live in a fire trap with that anxiety and concern."

Mr Adams accused the Taoiseach of defamation and called for the accusation to be retracted. He said Mr Kenny's charge was untruthful and called for the Ceann Comhairle to have it withdrawn.

However, Mr Kenny refused to withdraw it and the Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett, said Mr Adams could address the issue at a later date.

Republican

Mr McFeely attended a function held by Ms McDonald but came away unimpressed.

"There was a 'come-for-wine-and-canapes-and-meet-Mary-Lou thing' for business people at a Smithfield hotel," he said in an interview two years ago.

"I went along. It was unrecognisable from anything I fought for. I looked around the room. It was many things, but it wasn't republican."

Ms McDonald confirmed that she held such an event in 2004 but said she did not invite Mr McFeely. She added that his conduct in relation to Priory Hall was "despicable".

Sinn Fein presidential candidate Martin McGuinness also denied that he was an ally of Mr McFeely's in the past.

Mr McGuinness attempted to distance himself from the developer but was forced to admit that he knew the IRA hunger striker "a lifetime ago".

He insisted that he had not seen Mr McFeely for over three decades.

Council tenants living in the Priory Hall complex in Donaghmede were initially told to move out two years ago.

But last week Dublin City Council said new matters had come to light which indicated a serious fire risk and it advised both private owners and renters to vacate their apartments as well.

The High Court then ruled to evacuate the complex, which comprises 187 units, and a judge froze Mr McFeely's assets.

The State's 'bad bank' NAMA also stepped in last night to offer to talk to council chiefs and draw up a list of properties it has available which could house homeless residents.

Irish Independent

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