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Priory Hall families face grim Christmas after new cash blow

PRIORY Hall families fear they will not be able to return home for Christmas after being left in limbo.

Some 240 residents of the north Dublin apartments remain evacuated from the complex because of fire safety concerns.

Now their fate is unclear because both Dublin City Council, and former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely, who built the units, say they haven't the money to rectify the problems.

In the High Court, the council secured the removal of McFeely's workers from the complex but says it has no money to pay for a new contractor to complete the fire safety works.

McFeely, his company and workers were ordered by the High Court to leave by 6pm yesterday after the council complained about a lack of progress.

A new contractor has been identified but the council has no funds to pay for the work.

Mr McFeely denied there was any breach of court orders but his lawyers said he would not object to being replaced if that was what the council wanted.

Labour councillor Brian McDowell welcomed the decision, saying the residents were always concerned that the developer who built the apartments was also doing the fire safety repairs.

"There is a long way to go in reaching a final resolution to all the problems with Priory Hall but I think (it was) was a good day for the residents," Mr McDowell said.







Urgency

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, made the evacuation order against Mr McFeely and Coalport Building Company Ltd, which built the 187-apartment complex at Donaghmede in 2006.

He made the order after ruling there was a breach of earlier court orders to carry out certain works on a weekly basis, to be concluded on November 28. He said the council must address the situation at Priory Hall "as a matter of extreme urgency".

The judge added it was not the court's function to direct who should do the works at Priory Hall -- as the council had sought -- but, he assumed, given the council had applied to have Mr McFeely removed, that "intelligent people had thought ahead".

He also directed the council to meet shortfalls being experienced by residents entitled to rent supplements but whose alternative rented accommodation is more expensive than at Priory Hall.

Lawyers for some residents said they had never wanted Mr McFeely to carry out the remedial works but were concerned what was to happen now.

John O'Donnell said his clients were happy for someone else to do the works but there was still a question about who was going to pay for these.

Hugh Mohan, representing about 40 residents, said they were in a perilous position and some had been advised by the council to seek hostel accommodation.

Conleth Bradley, for the council, said it has another firm of contractors ready to complete the works but cannot fund the works itself, and was not required by law to do so as its responsibility was fire safety.

hnews@herald.ie


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