Grace church forced to close

Published 12/12/2012 | 15:15

GRACE Fellowship is to close the doors of its facilities at the North Link Retail Park this afternoon (Tuesday) following a court hearing in which 'serious and immediate' concerns were raised by the council about the building's fire safety.

The Christian church's leader, Hassan Boyle, gave an undertaking at Dundalk District Court to close the building – which houses a school, coffee shop, assembly room and place of worship – from 3pm, after the county council's fire officer there was a 'serious risk' to the public.

The council took a case in front of Judge Flann Brennan last Thursday alleging Mr Boyle and the landlords – Kenneth Cumiskey from Blackrock and Raymond Cumiskey from Dromiskin – had failed to comply with a closure notice served in June. A CHRISTIAN church organisation that runs a coffee shop and a school from retail units in Dundalk has undertaken to close from this (Tuesday) afternoon after 'serious and immediate' concerns were expressed by the council about the fire safety of the building.

Grace Fellowship, headed by Hassan Boyle, is leasing units 1-2 at the North Link Retail Park and using the former furniture shop and store for a 43 pupil school, a place of worship, a coffee shop and an assembly hall capable of catering for around 285 people.

Mr Boyle rents the property from landlords Kenneth Cumiskey, 10 The Meadows, Rock Road, Blackrock and Raymond Cumiskey, Little Road, Dromiskin and, in June this year, all three were served with a notice from Dundalk Town Council to shut the buildings down because, according to the council's fire officers, there is a serious risk to the public from a potential fire.

Summonses were issued by the council to the three men accusing them of starting work without a commencement notice, materially changing the building without a fire safety certificate and failing to comply with the closure notice.

The case was part-heard at the district court last Thursday when council solicitor John McGahon said his client's fire officer had inspected the building as recently as the previous week and had 'serious and immediate concerns' about the fire safety of the building.

Mr McGahon alleged that there is insufficient fire separation between parts of the building, where furniture - deemed a high fire risk material - was being stored and the units rented by the Grace Fellowship.

In addition, it is the council's case that fire escapes were not adequate either.

Mr McGahon said: 'Coming up to Christmas, the numbers frequenting it (Grace Fellowship) are only going to increase and we have a concern there's a serious and immediate risk to the safety of the public'.

But the Cumiskeys' solicitor, Conor Breen told Judge Flann Brennan an engineer's report for the defendants showed that fire separation work had been carried out, smoke alarms and emergency lighting are in place and wall linings are in the process of being replaced. Mr McGahon said the fire officer would dispute some of that.

Judge Brennan adjourned the case to today (Tuesday) and said 'if there is a closure notice served, it should be complied with'.

On Tuesday, Mr Boyle gave an undertaking to close the building from 3pm today and remain closed until the works are completed to the satisfaction of the fire officer.

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