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Priory Hall homes taken over by damp - and pigeons

THEY were told to evacuate their dream homes for five weeks -- but a year on, they're no closer to knowing when they can move back.

Today, pigeons roost in Priory Hall, the ill-fated apartments which many young couples once lovingly decorated and furnished and turned into homes.

Last October, 256 residents were told to pack up their lives for a temporary move. But as the legal debates drag on, most now believe they will never return to the homes for which they paid up to €300,000 .

They plan to mark the first anniversary with a protest at the stricken site from where they were evacuated amid fire safety fears.

They say the Tom McFeely-built apartments have been left in such bad condition that they are now home to flocks of roosting pigeons defecating all over the floors, while floods, cracks and damp are making it even more uninhabitable.

"It's falling to bits. It's an absolute disgrace," said Priory Hall representative Graham Usher.

Pictures show damp on walls and ceilings where the rain is penetrating, and floods in basement common areas.

"I never want to live there again. I want to see them knocked," said another resident, Stephanie Mahon.

Residents are organising a protest on Saturday, October 13, to mark the day last year they began packing their belongings and moving to hotel accommodation after being evacuated by Dublin City Council over fire safety concerns at the homes they are paying mortgages on.

"We are going to have a protest at the site on Saturday the 13th. We were finally evacuated on October 17 last year and we feel we need to mark that in some way," he said.

"Bear in mind that we were told we might be out for five weeks while the problems were fixed. We were told we would be back in by Christmas, and now we are facing our second Christmas out of our homes," Mr Usher added.

"I never believed we would be back in our homes in five weeks, but I never believed we'd be in limbo for this long. The council are just kicking the can down the road but it's the families that suffer," he added.

The legal battle over who is responsible for the Priory Hall debacle is still raging. The taxpayer, through Dublin City Council, is continuing to pay for the alternative accommodation it had to provide for the residents. But the council is due to go to the Supreme Court soon in a bid to overturn the High Court decision making it responsible for housing the families.

Now apartment owners say that if they are forced to pay for rent while they are out of Priory Hall they will be forced to default on their mortgages.

Some say they will never live in Priory Hall again -- even if their homes are repaired.

"Our love for our homes is gone now. I just want to see the whole lot demolished," said Ms Mahon.

She said she went back to her home recently to pick up some children's that she had left behind.


"The smell is horrendous, it turned my stomach, and there are pigeon droppings all over the carpets," she added.

Meanwhile, Dublin City Council wants to put pressure on banks to ensure that the evacuated residents of Priory Hall don't end up paying for mistakes made by the developer who built their homes.

A motion passed by the council this week 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".

Developer Tom McFeely claims he cannot afford to repair the extensive defects in the complex which, it's now believed, go beyond fire safety requirements. Meanwhile residents are still living in temporary accommodation and have little hope of ever returning to their former homes.