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Sunday 21 January 2018

Kenny vows to end two-year hell of Priory Hall residents

Former Priory Hall residents outside the abandoned apartment complex
Former Priory Hall residents outside the abandoned apartment complex
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has said the plight of Priory Hall residents is a "complete injustice" and vowed to help end their nightmare.

Mr Kenny made a personal vow to the 300 residents of the "death trap" complex that the Government will negotiate an end to their two-year nightmare.

However, he asked for more time to resolve the situation.

The Taoiseach said he is awaiting an expert report to determine what can be done with the controversial Dublin apartment complex.

He described Priory Hall as "the worst of what happened during the so-called Celtic Tiger years".

Mr Kenny's vow came after resident Stephanie Meehan wrote to him outlining how her children's lives will never be the same after her partner, Fiachra Daly (37), committed suicide on July 15. Mr Daly took his life days after a letter from his bank demanding payment on mortgage arrears, despite the fact his family were forced to move out of the complex in 2011 for safety reasons.

The Priory Hall Residents' Committee gave a cautious welcome to a pledge by Mr Kenny.

Ursula Graham, spokeswoman for Priory Hall Residents' Committee, said that the Taoiseach must act on his comments.

"I think the need in 2009 was for safe homes. The need hasn't changed in four years. We've had no state intervention," she said. "The city council as an arm of the State has tried to make us responsible, which we aren't.

"I think, yes while we would welcome Enda Kenny's comments, he needs to step in, he needs to do it now. People want a safe home."

The Taoiseach vowed that he will now ensure something is done for residents but he pleaded for more time.

"Priory Hall, in my view, is an example of the worst of what happened during the so-called Celtic Tiger years," he said. "People, through no fault of their own, were put into houses that were effectively deemed to be death traps."

He added: "I think it would be a complete injustice to have these people expected to pay mortgages and interest on houses that they will never live in."

Mr Kenny said he is awaiting expert recommendations on whether Priory Hall can be refurbished to acceptable safety standards or whether the complex has to be condemned and demolished.

"I have asked for a report for myself on this matter and I just need a little more time to get clarity about what is the best thing to do," he said.

Meanwhile Environment minister Phil Hogan said that the Government has a moral responsibility to the former residents of Priory Hall.

Speaking in Kerry yesterday, he described as "absolute nonsense" suggestions that it took Mr Daly's suicide to force the Government to do something to assist those displaced.

DEPRESSION

"As somebody that cares about people and puts people first, in the same way as I'm doing with pyrite in houses, I'm doing the same in Priory Hall."

The plight of Priory Hall residents was highlighted again after father-of-two Mr Daly took his own life.

In her letter to the Taoiseach, his partner Stephanie wrote: "He never suffered from any form of mental illness or depression, we had been together for 17 years and I never once witnessed any signs.

"The stress, the worry of not being able to provide a safe home for us, his young children, eventually took its toll, as it has on every resident.

"He was obviously a silent sufferer, he never complained, he supported me when I was feeling low."

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Irish Independent

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