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Council funds McFeely's fire cover

TAXPAYERS will foot a bill of around €30,000 a week for fire cover at the evacuated Priory Hall apartment block built by millionaire developer Tom McFeely.

Remedial works began yesterday at the Dublin site, which was found to have severe fire-safety defects throughout its 187 apartments.

Furious tenants have been moved around hotels while the work is carried out and now the public has also been hit by the controversy due to the 24-hour fire brigade presence ordered by the High Court.

It is estimated that the daily cost of providing four fire fighters and one officer at the building is around €4,000.

That bill is to be paid from Dublin City Council coffers along with more than €200,000 in hotel bills for the displaced tenants -- neither is being picked up by Mr McFeely.

The former IRA hunger striker, who lives on Dublin's leafy Ailesbury Road, is paying for the remedial works on the building but much of the cost associated with the ongoing scandal is to be met by the taxpayer.

Meanwhile, the 240 tenants who have been put in hotel rooms have been described by Justice Nicholas Kearns as being in a "Dunkirk-like situation".

Last week families who had been put up at the Regency Hotel had to move to an alternative venue due to the need for 80 rooms for an upcoming poker tournament.

John Kidd, a representative of the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Organisation (IFESO) and a candidate in the forthcoming Dublin West by-election, said the guard duty at the complex was setting a worrying precedent.

"What are we going to do when we find more of these (flawed) estates? There are 24 fire engines in Dublin -- are they going to leave them all lying outside housing estates?" he said.

And he dismissed claims that the bill would be met by Dublin City Council and not the fire brigade itself. He said: "€200,000 will have to come out of the operational budget for next year. That is the equivalent of six months (of funding) for an ambulance," he said.

Firefighters say they have been directed not to enter the apartments if they catch fire because they are deemed too dangerous.

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"Because the walls are wood and if it goes up, it will go up fast," a source said.

"If it goes up we will fight it from the outside not the inside."

Mr Kidd has also called for a public inquiry as to why council tenants were moved from the building a full two years before private owners.

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