Families told work on evacuated flats could take months

Michael Lavery

FORMER residents of an evacuated Dublin complex have been warned the situation is worse than expected and they should look for alternative accommodation.

In a briefing from the receiver, residents of the Laurels complex in Dundrum were advised to make longer term arrangements, as repair work would require considerably more time than anticipated, with no completion date given.

The problems were such that there was no guarantee they could be fixed.

Around 130 residents in 75 apartments at the development on the Balinteer Road in Dundrum, Co Dublin, were told to relocate in July after the building was found to be in breach of building regulations.

At the time, Dublin City Council and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council were notified by the receiver through Dublin Fire Brigade of the defects.

In a letter to residents the management company said work would be finished within three months.

Meanwhile, Priory Hall residents, who have spent nearly a year out of their homes, are "furious" at the situation they still find themselves in.

Residents spoke out as it emerged that Dublin City Council spent a total of €5.1m buying apartments at the troubled complex in Donaghmede.

In June 2008, four months before the local authority purchased the final four of the 27 apartments it bought in Priory Hall, Dublin City Council itself inspected the site and issued a warning letter to Tom McFeely's company Coalport for non compliance with planning permission.

Just one month after this final purchase was made, the City Council received its first complaint about fire safety at the complex, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Today, Graham Usher of the Priory Hall residents' committee told the Herald that the families have spent almost a year out of the complex.

"People are furious with the builder, with the council, with the Government," he said. "It has been a year of banging our heads against the wall. We feel we are getting nowhere."

Families are still being accommodated by the City Council but they were now waiting for the council to go back to the Supreme Court in October "to try and get us out."

There were reportedly signs of trouble at Priory Hall long before the City Council began buying the apartments to use as social and affordable housing.

In June, 2006, the Health and Safety Authority forced the temporary closure of the site for breaches of regulations.