Tuesday 12 December 2017

Judge will personally inspect complex in case of dispute

Louise Hogan

THE president of the High Court has warned he will personally inspect the evacuated Priory Hall apartment complex if any dispute arises.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns warned if the emergency works to fix the fire-safety hazards were not completed by the end of next month he would consider it a breach of court orders.

The days of previous failures in tackling the problems at the complex at Donaghmede "are over" and weekly works targets must be met, the judge said.

Around 240 residents have been evacuated from the complex with many housed in the Regency Hotel, Dublin, which the judge yesterday described as a "Dunkirk-like situation".

Dublin City Council, which sought the evacuation order, has been directed to pay the residents' accommodation and storage costs.

The judge urged lending institutions to take "due account" of the "unprecedented difficulties" being experienced by residents who have mortgages on the properties.

He directed that the High Court must be informed every Friday by the developers and the council of the progress of a specified programme of works essential to address serious fire-safety concerns at the complex.

Scaffolding has been erected on the site in advance of the work schedule ordered to begin from Monday and to be completed by November 28.

Counsel for developer and former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely, whose Coalport Building Company Ltd developed the complex in 2006, said the works had begun and sought the lifting of freezing orders on accounts of his clients to facilitate those.

After receiving a statement of affairs from Mr McFeely, the judge agreed to lift the orders.

He was asked that the statement be kept private on grounds it related to Mr McFeely's personal affairs and was "commercially sensitive".

Many residents, who have been formally evacuated from the complex since Thursday last, crowded into Court Four of the Four Courts yesterday to be updated on matters concerning the controversial development.

Conleth Bradley SC, for the council, said fire safety inspector Donal Casey had inspected the complex where scaffolding had been erected, with the court order works due to begin from Monday.

The council's housing section was doing its best to meet the residents' needs, he added.

A group of 34 residents, represented by John O'Donnell SC, and a separate group of some 40 residents, represented by Vincent Martin, of the New Beginnings group, were joined as notice parties to the case.

Mr O'Donnell said it was hard to underestimate the anger and frustration of the residents who were anxious the works be done by parties other than Coalport and Mr McFeely because they had a "complete lack of trust" in them given the nature of previous remedial works done.

Irish Independent

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