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One year on, and for ex-residents fear and stress is taking its toll

ROGUE developer Tom McFeely may have washed his hands of the Priory Hall debacle -- but for the families left homeless by his shoddy work, the nightmare goes on.

A year after 250 residents were ordered out of their fire-risk homes, families and individuals who bought apartments remain uncertain as to when or if they'll be allowed back.

And they could soon be landed with the double whammy of paying to rent alternative accommodation as well as mortgages on homes that are uninhabitable.

Up until now Dublin City Council has had to pay for the alternative accommodation provided to the residents.

But it plans to go to the Supreme Court to overturn that ruling.

If the council wins, then the families who bought properties in the ill-fated development will find themselves paying out for rent as well as mortgages.

Many residents say that if that day comes, they will have to default on their mortgages, and the uncertainty of their futures is a source of constant stress and worry.

Today, the families plan to march to the site.

And as for the question: 'Who will fix Priory Hall?' -- the answer, as they say, is blowing in the wind.







Bankrupt

Last October, 256 residents were told to pack their bags for a temporary move because their homes in Donaghmede were found to be a fire hazard.

But as the financial and legal debates drag on, the only sure thing for most is that they never want to set foot in the place again.

They paid up to €300,000 for their homes, built by former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely, and still have those mortgage millstones around their necks.

A conciliation process aimed at bringing all parties, including banks, the council and residents around a table, was undertaken in April, with a view to being finalised by July, but that is still in motion.

Developer Tom McFeely has been declared bankrupt, and his plush Ailesbury Road home has been repossessed by the banks.

But the people in Priory Hall know he won't be putting his hands in his pockets to fix Priory Hall.

Spokesman Graham Usher is bitter that there is no end in sight after a full year.

"Nobody wants to be getting into arrears, but if that does happen, if people have to default, what happens then?" he asked.







Bailiffs

"People will be trying to pay rent, maybe having to change their children's schools, and what will the banks do, send the bailiffs around, who knows?" he added.

Priory Hall residents who are currently on mortgage moratoriums with their banks say it is a double-edged sword.

While they are postponing having to pay back the capital to a future date, the interest keeps rolling up.

"It's just kicking the can down the road and in the long run you owe thousands more," said Graham.

Dublin City Council's response to questions from the Herald was that it does not want to comment while the conciliation or resolution process is still ongoing.

However, at a recent council meeting Dublin City Council said it wants to put pressure on banks to ensure the evacuated residents of Priory Hall don't end up paying for mistakes made by McFeely when he built their homes.

A motion passed by the council noted that, as the first anniversary of the evacuation nears, "this city council calls on all concerned, but in particular the financial institutions, to ensure that the evacuated residents are not financially penalised in any way as a result of the gross and unlawful deficiencies in the construction of their former homes, and that their right to decent housing is vindicated".

cfeehan@herald.ie


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