Thursday 19 September 2019

Over 40 residents ordered to immediately vacate three Dublin buildings due to fire safety concerns

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Aodhan O Faolain and Ray Managh

Dublin City Council has secured temporary High Court injunctions requiring over 40 residents to immediately leave three centre-centre buildings they reside at, due to fire safety concerns.

The orders were granted in respect of premises at 100, 101 and 104 Seville Place, Dublin, which the court heard are each divided into several flats or bedsits.

DCC, represented in court by Conleth Bradley SC and Karen Denning Bl, says its fire safety officers had inspected the buildings in recent weeks.

Those inspections revealed that the three properties are in very poor repair, and if a fire started in any of the buildings it would "spread very quickly" Mr Bradley said.

The risk to persons living in the what are four-story buildings is so serious that their continued use for residential purposes should be prohibited until several serious fire safety deficiencies are addressed, DCC says.

The issues identified include that the bedsit doors were not fire doors, that emergency lighting was in disrepair, the internal lining of walls and ceilings were in serious disrepair, and the fire detection systems and alarms were faulty.

Fire detectors had been removed from common areas, escape routes had been obstructed, holes in the roof were poorly boarded up with combustible material, there were holes in the floor with wiring exposed.

Counsel said there was also evidence that people had been smoking (cigarettes) inside the building, and there was no fire-resisting barrier between the stairway and the bedsits/flats.

DCC's action is against Vincent and Catherine, otherwise known as Kathleen, Donoghue who DCC says own the properties and Mr Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton who the court was told was appointed as receiver over the properties by AIB Mortgage Banks and AIB in October 2017

The interim injunctions prohibiting the use of the buildings for residential purposes were granted, on an ex -parte basis, by Mr Justice Anthony Barr on Thursday afternoon.

The judge said he was satisfied to make the orders based on the fire safety concerns raised by DCC.  The judge made the actions returnable to Monday's sitting of the court.

Seeking the orders Mr Bradley said that DCC's case is that any fire in the buildings would spread quickly. There were no adequate means of escape if a fire did break out, and no proper devices were in place to extinguish or detect a fire.

The inspections had revealed that at least 40 people are residing in the three buildings, including six children.

There may be more people living there, counsel added. 

Counsel said that the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive had been made aware of the situation. 

Mr Bradley said that DCC had serious fire safety concerns about the buildings which it inspected in 2017 and in 2018 when a fire safety notice was issued.

DCC believed that a maintenance company hired by the receiver had been carrying out necessary works on the buildings.

Counsel said the building appeared to have deteriorated after DCC Environmental Health Officer inspected the building in July

That inspection occurred after complaints including about the dumping of rubbish, and that rodents were observed around the premises, were made to DCC.

It was also alleged that the carcass of a dead pig was brought into one of the buildings by people living in one of the units.

Counsel said that inspections of the bedsits which DCC had gained access to revealed that they had no functioning hot water and that there issues with damp, and cockroach infestation.

Bars had also been placed on the windows of basement, which also prevent egress from the building in the event of a fire, he added.

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