THE DEVELOPER OF the Priory Hall apartment complex, Thomas McFeely, has won his appeal to the Supreme Court against his three month prison sentence and €1 million fine for being found in contempt of court.
McFeely, who was declared bankrupt at the High Court in Dublin yesterday, won his appeal against the sentence that was imposed after he failed to repair fire safety defects at the housing complex in north Dublin.
Priory Hall had to be evacuated last October, leaving 256 residents in temporary accommodation.
Having immediately appealed the sentence the contempt of court finding, the three month prison sentence and the €1 million fine, McFeely was released pending this case coming before Supreme Court today which ruled in his favour.
Priory Hall residents said they were “extremely disappointed with today’s judgement” but not surprised. Dublin City Council which had objected to the appeal did not immediately have a comment.
Barristers for McFeely argued that the developer had not been able to comply with the order to carry out repairs at Priory Hall because he had been evicted from the site almost two weeks earlier.
In her ruling, Supreme Court chief justice Susan Denham said that she was satisfied that the appellant (McFeely) could not be in breach of the court order to carry out repairs because he had been ordered to vacate the site.
The court found that there was no factual foundation upon which to make a finding of contempt of court or a breach of an undertaking.
In her ruling the chief justice noted that there had been unfortunate consequences from Dublin City Council’s request to have McFeely removed from the site which he was on 4 November last year.
The Council had objected to the appeal and though the Supreme Court said that the Council’s approach was adopted in the best interests of the tenants, Priory Hall residents accused the Dublin City Council of mishandling proceedings.
Residents said that “repeated mistakes” from the council have allowed McFeely “to walk away from any responsibility”.
In a statement, the group added: “This verdict makes no practical difference to the residents. No work has been carried out on our homes since Mr McFeely was ordered off the site 9 months ago, nor is there any plan to carry out works.
“Families continue to live in limbo, unsure of where they will live from month to month.”
Dublin City Council could not immediately be reached for comment.