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'Taxpayer shouldn't be hit for Priory Hall'

DUBLIN City Council may appeal a High Court order obliging it to pay the accommodation costs of homeless Priory Hall residents.

The court had ruled that the local authority must pay the difference between the rent paid by residents of the Donaghmede apartment complex and the cost of their new accommodation.

In addition, the court ordered housing assistance to be provided for Priory Hall owner-occupiers for an "indefinite" period of time.

But City Manager John Tierney said in a new report: "We will have to consider this aspect (of the ruling) and we have until 10th November to appeal."

The complex, built by construction company Coalport, owned by former IRA hunger striker Tom McFeely, was evacuated over fire safety concerns.

Mr Tierney pointed out section 23 of the Fire Service Act 1981 gives the court "wide powers for the purposes of reducing the fire safety risk" including prohibiting the use of the premises.

"The High Court has done so in this case but in doing so has imposed the cost for alternative accommodation on the local authority. There is no provision for this in the legislation," Mr Tierney said.

Mr Tierney said the reason "we all have this monumental difficulty" is because of the actions of the developers.

The manager will be holding a meeting with the Department of the Environment this week to see whether "there is any way we can resolve the matter for those most affected".

He added: "But it should be noted that there are going to be no easy solutions to this very difficult problem."

Following last week's court action, Priory Hall families fear they will not be able to return home for Christmas after being left in limbo.

Some 240 residents remain evacuated from the 187-unit complex.

Their fate is unclear because both the council and Mr McFeely, who built the units, say they haven't the money to rectify the problems.