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Tuesday 24 April 2018

One year on and the only residents of ill-fated Priory Hall are the pigeons

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

FATHER-of-two Darren Kelly is weary of unpacked boxes clogging up his 'temporary' accommodation

It is a year since the taxi driver, along with his wife, Melissa, and their children -- Evan (3) and 15-month old Sophie -- left their two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of the Priory Hall apartment complex in Donaghmede, Dublin.

"I haven't been back in six-months," said Darren (40). "I can't really face going back to it."

Built by former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely, the complex has so far cost taxpayers more than €2.1m.

A march took place on Saturday marking a year since the place was evacuated. Among those who marched from Donaghmede Shopping Centre to Priory Hall were 300 angry residents forced to move out of their homes.

The only residents in the Priory Hall blocks these days are pigeons defecating in the corridors.

In the 12 months since the families were ordered to evacuate their homes, residents have also reported mould encroaching gradually through their unheated apartments.

Mr Kelly said: "We bought in 2005 off the plans and moved in in 2007. We paid €255,000. We thought we were doing right."

There were 187 apartments in Priory Hall, with 26 bought by Dublin City Council and seven by St Michael's for social housing.

Repairs

On October 17 last year, 256 residents, including 87 children, were evacuated amid fire safety fears.

It was supposed to be for five weeks to allow for repairs. A year later, residents are no closer to returning.

Mr Kelly said residents first learned of the problems when they were told that the insurance company had pulled their coverage from the block.

"None of us were engineers. You go on the advice you are given," said Mr Kelly.

First, they were put in the Regency Hotel with a two-month-old baby. They were later housed by Dublin City Council in accommodation at Belmayne in Clare Hall.

"It is not our own home. We still have stuff in boxes ready to go again," said Mr Kelly, who is currently on a moratorium from his mortgage.

As he returned to his family's 'temporary' accommodation from the march, he was doubtful he would ever be calling Priory Hall home again.

Irish Independent

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