Priory Hall residents fear council may win court case
BELEAGUERED residents of the Priory Hall complex say they face another agonising wait before their fate is determined by the Supreme Court in April.
The residents say their future remains in limbo until April 24 when the Supreme Court will hear an appeal by Dublin City Council (DCC) over orders requiring it to pay the accommodation and other costs associated with their mandatory evacuation from their substandard apartment complex in north Dublin.
All 240 residents were forced to flee the 187-unit complex over fire-safety concerns last October on foot of a High Court evacuation order. They have been living in rented accommodation since then, which has been paid for by the council.
But residents' spokesman Graham Usher said last night that they feared being made homeless overnight if the court does not rule in their favour.
"Our fear is that Dublin City Council will go into the court and succeed and tell everyone to get out the next day,"he told the Irish Independent.
He made the comments after Supreme Court Chief Justice Ms Justice Susan Denham fixed the hearing for April 24.
In October, High Court judge Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns had directed the council to pay the accommodation, storage and rental differential costs incurred by the residents.
But the council told the court in December that it had already incurred a bill of about €350,000 for the residents and was concerned about the implication of such orders for the taxpayer as well as its role as a fire-safety authority.
Lawyers for several groups of Priory Hall residents will oppose the council's appeal.
The issue in the appeal is whether the High Court was entitled to make orders under Section 23 of the Fire Safety Act requiring the council to pay the residents' accommodation and other costs as a result of their evacuation.
Former IRA hunger striker and developer Thomas McFeely, whose Coalport Building Company developed the Priory Hall complex, will not be involved in the council's appeal.
He has brought a separate appeal against a High Court ruling that he breached orders and undertakings requiring him to meet weekly targets for completion of works on the site.
Those works were required to be completed on November 28. But the council secured an order on November 4, requiring Mr McFeely to leave the site on grounds that he had breached the works orders.