Tuesday 28 January 2020

Priory Hall residents to hear State's proposals

MAEVE SHEEHAN

THE Government is expected to present proposals this weekend to the former residents of Priory Hall almost two years after they were evacuated from the death trap complex built by rogue developer Tom McFeely.

The proposals are being put together by the State's most senior civil servant, Martin Fraser, to help almost 180 families who were left homeless yet repaying mortgages on their effectively worthless apartments.

As last-ditch talks continued last night between civil servants and banks, the residents' legal and financial advisers were put "on standby" this weekend to receive the proposals.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Environment Minister Phil Hogan said on Friday that he "hopes to make a statement on Priory Hall on Monday".

The residents will consider the proposals in the coming days. The Government's 21-day deadline for finding a solution to Priory Hall expires on Wednesday.

The residents have been given no indication yet as to what the proposals might contain. Most of them have been hoping that the banks will allow them transfer their mortgages on Priory Hall apartments to other properties, enabling them to buy another home.

But sources said that it was not clear yet whether the banks were all "singing from the same hymn sheet".

The banks – represented at the talks by the Irish Banking Federation – include both Irish and foreign-owned financial institutions, which has complicated some of the negotiations.

The proposals follow almost three weeks of intensive negotiations between residents of Priory Hall, civil servants, the main banks and Dublin City Council officials.

The talks have been taking place at Jury's Inn in the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin. They came two years after the families were evacuated from their homes for fire safety reasons by Dublin City Council.

Most of the families have since lived in rented accommodation and although some banks agreed to give them a break from mortgage repayments, they are still being charged mounting interest on arrears.

The latest attempt to resolve the crisis was prompted by public outcry over the death of Fiachra Daly, a former resident of Priory Hall, who took his own life in July.

His partner, Stephanie Meehan, wrote an open letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, attributing Fiachra's death to the pressures of Priory Hall and pleading for assistance to resolve the limbo situation they found themselves in.

Mr Kenny never responded and he subsequently came under enormous public pressure to help the families. Mr Hogan announced a 21-day resolution process that began on September 19.

The residents have been campaigning for two years for high-level government intervention to help with their mortgage difficulties.

A previous resolution process failed. Mr Hogan also previously declined to meet the residents, citing a case that was then at hearing.

Sunday Independent

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