Saturday 16 December 2017

Families warned to leave 'fire risk' housing

Edel O'Connell

SCORES of residents of a sprawling apartment complex built by a former IRA hunger striker have been told they must vacate their homes as they have been deemed unsafe.

Council tenants and affordable housing residents living in the Priory Hall complex in Donaghmede, north Dublin, moved out after being told to leave two years ago.

Now private owners and renters, some of whom are in receipt of rent allowance, have also been told to vacate their homes by Dublin City Council.

The letter said the city council found that in addition to continuing non-compliance with fire safety regulations "certain matters had come to light", and there was a "serious risk to the safety of the persons in the event of a fire on the premises".

The 187-unit scheme was built by the Coalport Building Company. Former H-Block hunger striker Tom McFeely (60) is a director.

The complex includes 187 apartments in four- and five-storey blocks. Two of those blocks were home to 16 Dublin City Council tenants who moved out in 2009. It is understood in the region of 20 apartments are vacant so this leaves somewhere in the region of 137 apartments, which are occupied by private purchasers and tenants.

The council gave 10 examples of fire risks in the letter, including lack of adequate fire resistance in wall cavities, inadequate alarms and possible problems with gas and electrical installations.

It also said there was an inner room on the top floor of each duplex apartment in breach of a condition of the fire safety certificate.

The council advised the private residents that the fire officer considered the building unsafe to occupy unless the deficiencies were rectified. It warned residents that court action may result in an order to vacate the building.

Liam Boland (31), who has been living in Priory Hall since March 2009, said he feared people would be left with nowhere to go. He pays €843 a month on a €225,000 mortgage.

"I have family but I don't want to be in the position where I'm being put up by them, it's not their responsibility," he said.


"It's against human rights to render somebody homeless."

Mr Boland said the complex no longer had insurance, and block insurance ceased today.

"We're essentially completely exposed in the event of a fire."

When contacted by the Irish Independent the city council said as court action "is imminent" it could not comment on the issue.

Mr McFeely was among a group of IRA prisoners who went on hunger strike for 53 days in the H-blocks in 1980. He could not be reached for comment last night.

Many of those who purchased apartments in 2005 paid in the region of €250,000 for the two-bedroom properties in the complex. Distressed residents and local politicians met with city council officials yesterday to discuss their options.

Local Sinn Fein councillor Micheal MacDonncha described the situation as a "massive scandal" and called on Housing Minister Willie Penrose and Dublin City Council to ensure the residents were properly housed and the developer forced to carry out the extensive works needed to make the apartments safe.

Irish Independent

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