Wednesday 18 September 2019

'Hostel' with number of serious fire deficiencies should be vacated, High Court rules

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Tim Healy

The High Court has ordered that a house being used as a hostel with a number of serious fire deficiencies should be vacated.

However, a stay was put on the order over the house at Ossory Road, North Strand Dublin, until next Monday to give the person in control the premises an opportunity to be heard in court.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan was told that Austin Smithers, who is in control of the premises and is resident in the UK, had requested a lawyer to ask the court to put the case back until Monday to give him an opportunity to instruct his own solicitor who is out of the jurisdiction at the moment.

The court heard up to 30 people had been resident, in rooms mostly containing bunk beds, with safety deficiencies including no fire alarm, no fire doors and blocked or inadequate fire escape routes.  There are around 17 or 18 people, mostly from Mexico, now living there.

The judge said he did not wish to see the 17 or 18 people out on the street for the weekend in circumstances where the first inspection of the building was carried out last May.

Conleth Bradley SC, with Karen Denning BL, for the council, said efforts had been made to resolve the matter by agreement but despite a number of promises by Mr Smithers to carry out certain works, nothing had been done.

The most important of these was the immediate installation of a fire alarm system. Under conditions of a fire safety certificate issued last month, the alarm was to be installed and other works were to be carried out within six months. The certificate also required a maximum occupancy of 20 persons.

Given the risk to those people in the event of a fire, the council was seeking the property be immediately vacated, counsel said.

In relation to alternative accommodation, the Dublin Homeless Executive had stated if the people involved presented at Parkgate House, Parkgate Street, their needs would be assessed, counsel said.

Mr Justice Noonan said he would grant the order that the premises be vacated but put a stay on it till 6pm on Monday when Mr Smithers could have liberty to apply the court in relation to the order.

"I am conscious this has been on on for some time and I am not criticising the fire authority but I think people should have the opportunity to sort themselves out rather than be told they have to leave", the judge said.

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